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Full text of "Dramatic technique"

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http://www.archive.org/details/dramatictechniquOObakeuoft 



DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 



BY 

GEORGE PIERCE BAKER 

PROFESSOR OF HISTORY AND TECHNIQUE OF 
THE DRAMA IN YALE UNIVERSITY 



"<lA good play is certainly the most 
rational and the highest Sntertainment 
that Human Invention can produce. 7 

COLLEY CIBBER 





HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY 

BOSTON • NEW YORK • CHICAGO • DALLAS • SAN FRANCISCO 

fZ\)t &tbersfoe press Cambnbgt 



COPYRIGHT, 1919, BY GEORGE PIERCE BAKER 



ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 



The author aclcnowledges courteous 'permission to 
quote -passages from copyright plays as credited 
to various authors and publishers in the footnotes. 



to 



CAMBRIDGE • MASSACHUSETTS 
PRINTED IN THE U.S. A. 



PREFACE 

"The dramatist is born, not made." This common saying 
grants the dramatist at least one experience of other artists, 
namely, birth, but seeks to deny him the instruction in art 
granted the architect, the painter, the sculptor, and the mu- 
sician. Play-readers and producers, however, seem not so 
sure of this distinction, for they are often heard saying: "The 
plays we receive divide into two classes : those competently 
written, but trite in subject and treatment; those in some 
way fresh and interesting, but so badly written that they 
cannot be produced." Some years ago, Mr. Savage, the 
manager, writing in The Bookman on "The United States 
of Playwrights," said : " In answer to the question, * Do the 
great majority of these persons know anything at all of even 
the fundamentals of dramatic construction?' the managers 
and agents who read the manuscripts unanimously agree in 
the negative. Only in rare instances does a play arrive in 
the daily mails that carries within it a vestige of the knowl- 
edge of the science of drama-making. Almost all the plays, 
furthermore, are extremely artificial and utterly devoid of 
the quality known as human interest." All this testimony 
of managers and play-readers shows that there is something 
which the dramatist has not as a birthright, but must learn. 
Where? Usually he is told, "In the School of Hard Experi- 
ence." When the young playwright whose manuscript has 
been returned to him but with favorable comment, asks 
what he is to do to get rid of the faults in his work, both 
evident to him and not evident, he is told to read widely in 
the drama; to watch plays of all kinds; to write with end- 
less patience and the resolution never to be discouraged. 



iv PREFACE 

He is to keep submitting his plays till, by this somewhat 
indefinite method of training,he at last acquires the ability 
to write so well that a manuscript is accepted. This is 
"The School of Experience." Though a long and painful 
method of training, it has had, undeniably, many distin- 
guished graduates. 

Why, however, is it impossible that some time should be 
saved a would-be dramatist by placing before him, not mere 
theories of play-writing, but the practice of the dramatists of 
the past, so that what they have shared in common, and 
where their practice has differed, may be clear to him? That 
is all this book attempts. To create a dramatist would be 
a modern miracle. To develop theories of the drama apart 
from the practice of recent and remoter dramatists of differ- 
ent countries would be visionary. This book tries in the light 
of historical practice merely to distinguish the permanent 
from the impermanent in technique. It endeavors, by show- 
ing the inexperienced dramatist how experienced dramatists 
have solved problems similar to his own, to shorten a little 
his time of apprenticeship. The limitations of any such at- 
tempt I fully recognize. This book is the result of almost 
daily discussion for some years with classes of the ideas con- 
tained in it, but in that discussion there was a chance to 
treat with each individual the many exceptions, apparent 
or real, which he could raise to any principle enunciated. 
Such full discussion is impossible in a book the size of this 
one. Therefore I must seem to favor an instruction far mor? 
dogmatic than my pupils know from me. No textbook can 
do away with the value of proper classroom work. The prac- 
tice of the past provides satisfactory principles for students 
of ordinary endowment. A person of long experience or un- 
usually endowed, however, after grasping these principles, 
must at times break from them if he is to do his best work. 
The classroom permits a teacher such adaptations of existing 



PREFACE v 

usage. Such special needs no textbook can forestall. This 
book, then, is meant, not to replace wise classroom instruc- 
tion, but to supplement it or to offer what it can when such 
instruction is impossible. 

The contents of this book were originally brought together 
horn notes for the classroom as eight lectures delivered be- 
fore the Lowell Institute, Boston, in the winter of 1913. They 
were carefully reworked for later lectures before audiences in 
Brooklyn and Philadelphia. Indeed, both in and out of the 
classroom they have been slowly revised in the intervening 
five years. Detailed consideration of the one-act play has 
been reserved for later special treatment. Otherwise the 
book attempts to treat helpfully the many problems which 
the would-be dramatist must face in learning the funda- 
mentals of a very difficult but fascinating art. 

I have written for the person who cannot be content ex- 
cept when writing plays. I wish it distinctly understood 
that I have not written for the person seeking methods of 
conducting a course in dramatic technique. I view with 
some alarm the recent mushroom growth of such courses 
throughout the country. I gravely doubt the advisability 
of such courses for undergraduates. Dramatic technique is 
the means of expressing, for the stage, one's ideas and emo- 
tions. Except in rare instances, undergraduates are better 
employed in filling their minds with general knowledge than 
in trying to phrase for the stage thoughts or emotions not 
yet mature. In the main I believe instruction in the writing 
of plays should be for graduate students. Nor do I believe 
that it should be given except by persons who have had ex- 
perience in acting, producing, and even writing plays, and 
who have read and seen the drama of different countries and 
times. Mere lectures, no matter how good, will not make the 
students productive. The teacher who is not widely eclectic 
in his tastes will at best produce writers with an easily recog- 



vi PREFACE 

nizable stamp. In all creative courses the problem is not, 
"What can we make these students take from us, the teach- 
ers?" but, "Which of these students has any creative power 
that is individual? Just what is it? How may it be given its 
quickest and fullest development?" Complete freedom of 
choice in subject and complete freedom in treatment so that 
the individuality of the artist may have its best expression 
are indispensable in the development of great art. At first 
untrained and groping blindly for the means to his ends, he 
moves to a technique based on study of successful drama- 
tists who have preceded him. From that he should move to 
a technique that is his own, a mingling of much out of the 
past and an adaptation of past practice to his own needs. 
This book will help the development from blind groping 
to the acquirement of a technique based on the practice of 
others. It can do something, but only a little, to develop 
the technique that is highly individual. The instruction 
which most helps to that must be done, not by books, not 
by lectures, but in frequent consultation of pupil and 
teacher. The man who grows from a technique which per- 
mits him to write a good play because it accords with his- 
torical practice to the technique which makes possible for 
him a play which no one else could have written, must 
work under three great Masters: Constant Practice, Ex- 
acting Scrutiny of the Work, and, above all, Time. Only 
when he has stood the tests of these Masters is he the 
matured artist. 

Geo. P. Bakeb 



CONTENTS 

I. Technique in Drama: What it is. The Drama as an 

Independent Art 1 

II. The Essentials of Drama: Action and Emotion . 16 

III. From Subject to Plot. Clearing the Way . . . (47 

IV. From Subject through Story to Plot. Clearness 

through Wise Selection 73 

V. From Subject to Plot: Proportioning the Mate- 
rial: Number and Length of Acts . f .117 
VI. From Subject to Plot: Arrangement for Clear- 
ness, Emphasis, Movement . . . . . . 154 

VII. Characterization 234 

VIII. Dialogue 309 

IX. Making a Scenario 420 

X. The Dramatist and his Public 509 

Index 523 



DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 



CHAPTER I 

TECHNIQUE IN DRAMA: WHAT IT IS. THE DRAMA AS 
AN INDEPENDENT ART 

This book treats drama which has been tested before the 
public or which was written to be so tested. It does not con- 
cern itself with plays, past or present, intended primarily 
to be read — closet drama. It does not deal with theories 
of what the drama, present or future, might or should be. 
It aims to show what successful drama has been in differ- 
ent countries, at different periods, as written by men of 
highly individual gifts. 

The technique of any dramatist may be defined, roughly, 
as his ways, methods, and devices for getting his desirecj 
ends. No dramatist has this technique as a gift at birth, 
nor does he acquire it merely by writing plays. He reads 
and sees past and present plays, probably in large numbers. 
If he is like most young dramatists, for example Shakespeare 
on the one hand and Ibsen on the other, he works imitatively 
at first. He, too, has his Love's Labor's Lost, or Feast at 
Solhaug. Even if his choice of topic be fresh, the young 
dramatist inevitably studies the dramatic practice just pre- 
ceding his time, or that of some remoter period which at- 
tracts him, for models on which to shape the play he has in 
mind. Often, in whole-hearted admiration, he gives him- 
self to close imitation of Shakespeare, one of the great Greek 
dramatists, Ibsen, Shaw, or Brieux. For the moment the 
better the imitation, the better he is satisfied; but shortly 
he discovers that somehow the managers or the public, if 



2 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

his play gets by the managers, seem to have very little 
taste for great dramatists at second hand. Yet the history 
of the drama has shown again and again that a dramatist may 
owe something to the plays of a preceding period and achieve 
success. The influence of the Greek drama on The Servant 
in the House is unmistakable. Kismet, Mr. Knobloch frankly 
states, was modeled on the loosely constructed Elizabethan 
plays intended primarily to tell a story of varied and ex- 
citing incident. Where lies the difficulty? Just here. Too 
many people do not recognize that dramatic technique — 
methods and devices for gaining in the theatre a drama- 
tist's desired ends — is historically of three kinds: universal, 
special, and individual. First there are certain essentials 
which all good plays, from ^Eschylus to Lord Dunsany, share 
at least in part. They are the qualities which make a play 
a play. These the tyro must study and may copy. To the 
discussion and illustration of them the larger part of this 
book is devoted. Secondly, there is the special technique of a 
period, such as the Elizabethan, the Restoration, the period 
of Scribe and his influence, etc. A good illustration of this 
kind of technique is the difference in treatment of the An- 
tony and Cleopatra story by Shakespeare in his play of 
that name, and by John Dryden in All For Love. Each 
dramatist worked sincerely, believing the technique that 
he used would give him best, with the public he had in mind, 
his desired effects. The public of Shakespeare would not 
have cared for Dry den's treatment: the Restoration fourd 
Shakespeare barbaric until reshaped by dramatists whose 
touch today often seems that of a vandal facing work the 
real beauty of which he does not understand. The technique 
of the plays of Corneille and Racine, even though they base 
their dramatic theory on classical practice, differs from the 
Greek and from Seneca. In turn the drama which aimed to 
copy them, the so-called Heroic Plays of England from 1660 



TECHNIQUE IN DRAMA 3 

to 1700, differed. That is, a story dramatized before when 
re-presented to the stage must share with the drama of the 
past certain characteristics if it is to be a play at all, but to 
some extent it must be presented differently. Why? Be- 
cause, first, the dramatist is using a stage different from that 
of his forebears, and, secondly, because he is writing for a 
ublic of different standards in morals and art. Comparison 
for a moment of the stage of the Greeks with the stage of 
the Elizabethans, the Restoration, or of today shows the 
truth of the first statement. Comparison of the religious and 
social ideals of the Greeks with those of Shakespeare's au- 
dience, Congreve's public, Tom Robertson's, or the public 
^oT today shows the truth of the second. That is, the drama 
of any past time, if studied carefully, must reveal the essen- 
tials of the drama throughout time. It must reveal, too, 
methods and devices effective for the public of its time, but 
not effective at present. It is doubtless true that usually a 
young dramatist may gain most light as to the technique of 
the period on which he is entering from the practice of the 
playwrights just preceding him, but this does not always fol- 
low. Witness the sharp revolt, particularly in France and 
Germany, in the early nineteenth century, from Classicism 
to Romanticism. Witness, too, the change late in that cen- 
tury from the widespread influence of Scribe to the almost ^ 
equally widespread influence of Ibsen. 

The chief gift of the drama of the past to the young play- 
wright, then, is illustration of what is essential in drama. 
This he safely copies. Study of the technique of a special 
period, if the temper of his public closely resembles the inter- 
ests, prejudices, and ideals of the period he studies, may give 
him even larger results. Such close resemblance, however, is 
rare. Each period demands in part its own technique. What 
in that technique is added to the basal practice of the past 
may even be to some extent the contribution of the young 



4 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

dramatist in question. Resting on what he knows of the ele- 
ments common to all good drama, alert to the significance 
of the hints which the special practice of any period may give 
him, he thinks his way to new methods and devices for get- 
ting with his public his desired effects. Many or most of these 
the other dramatists of his day discover with him. These, 
which make the special usage of his time, become the tech- 
nique of his period. 

Perhaps, however, he has added something in technique 
J particularly his own, to be found in the plays of no other 
^man. This, the third sort of technique, is to be seen spe- 
cially in the work of the great dramatists. Usually, it is 
peculiarly inimitable and elusive because the result of a 
particular temperament working on problems of the drama 
peculiar to a special time. Imitation of this individual 
. technique in most instances results, like wearing the tailor- 
made clothes of a friend, in a palpable misfit. 

It is just because the enthusiast copies, not simply what is 
of universal significance in the practice of some past period, 
but with equal closeness what is special to the time and indi- 
vidual to the dramatist, that his play fails. He has produced 
something stamped as not of his time nor by him, but as at 
best a successful literary exercise in imitation. Of the three 
kinds of technique, then, — universal, special, and individual, 
— a would-be dramatist should know the first thoroughly. 
Recognizing the limitations of the second and third, he should 
study them for suggestions rather than for models. When he 
has mastered the first technique, and from the second has 
made his own what he finds useful in it, he is likely to pass 
to the third, his individual additions. 

Why, however, should men or women who have already 
written stories long or short declared by competent people 
to be "dramatic," make any special study of the technique 
of plays? Like the dramatist, they must understand char- 



TECHNIQUE IN DRAMA 5 

acterization and dialogue or they could not have written suc- 
cessful stories. Evidently, too, they must know something 
about structure. Above all, they must have shown ability so 
to represent people in emotion as to arouse emotional re- 
sponse in their readers, or their work would not be called dra- 
matic. Why, then, should they not write at will either in the 
form of stories or of plays? It is certainly undeniable that 
many novels seem in material and at moments in treatment, 
as dramatic as plays on similar subjects. In each, something 
is said or done which moves the reader or hearer as the 
author wishes. These facts account for the widespread and 
deeply-rooted belief that any novelist or writer of short sto- 
ries should write successful plays if he wishes, particularly 
if adapting his own work for the stage. The facts account, 
too, for the repeated efforts in the past to put popular novels 
on the stage as little changed as possible. Is it not odd that 
most adaptations of successful stories and most noveliza- 
tions of successful plays are failures? The fact that the drama~ 
had had for centuries in England and elsewhere a fecund his- 
tory before the novel as a form took shape at all would in- 
timate that the drama is a different and independent art 
from that of the novel or the short story. When novelists 
and would-be playwrights recognize that it is, has been, and 
ought to be an independent art, we shall be spared many 
bad plays. 

It is undeniable that the novelist and the dramatist start 
with common elements — the story, the characters, and the 
dialogue. If their common ability to discern in their story 
or characters possible emotional interests for other people, 
their so-called "dramatic sense," is "to achieve success on 
the stage it must be developed into theatrical talent by hard 
study and generally by long practice. For theatrical talent 
consists in the power of making your characters not only tell 
a story by means of dialogue but tell it in such skilfully de- 



6 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

vised form and order as shall, within the limits of an ordi- 
nary theatrical representation, give rise to the greatest pos- 
sible amount of that peculiar kind of emotional effect, the 
production of which is the one great function of the theatre." 1 
Certain underlying differences between the relation of the 
novelist to his reader and that of the dramatist to his au- 
dience reveal why the art of each must be different. 

The relative space granted novelist and dramatist is the 
first condition which differentiates their technique. A play 
of three acts, say forty pages each of ordinary typewriter 
paper, will take in action approximately a hundred and fifty 
minutes, or two hours and a half. When allowance is made 
for waits between the acts, the manuscript should probably 
be somewhat shorter. A novel runs from two hundred and 
fifty to six hundred pages. Obviously such difference be- 
tween the length of play and novel means different methods 
of handling material. The dramatist, if he tries for the same 
results as the novelist, must work more concisely. This de- 
mands very skilful selection among his materials to gain 
his desired effects in the quickest possible ways. 

A novel we read at one or a half-dozen sittings, as we 
please. When we so wish, we can pause to consider what we 
have just read, or can re-read it. In the theatre, a play must 
be seen as a whole and at once. Listening to it, we cannot 
turn back, we cannot pause to reflect, for the play pushes 
steadily on to the close of each act. Evidently, then, here is 
another reason why a play must make its effects more swiftly 
than a novel. This needed swiftness requires methods of 
making effects more obviously and more emphatically than 
in the novel. In a play, then, while moving much more 
swiftly than in a novel, we must at any given moment be even 
clearer than in the novel. What the dramatist selects for 
presentation must be more productive of immediate effect 

1 Robert Louis Stevenson: The Dramatist, p. 7. Sir A. Pinero. Chiswick Press, London. 



TECHNIQUE IN DRAMA J) 

than is the case with the novelist, for one swingeing blow 
must, with him, replace repeated strokes by the novelist. 

In most novels, the reader is, so to speak, personally con- 
ducted, the author is our guide. In the drama, so far as the 
dramatist is concerned, we must travel alone. In the novel, 
the author describes, narrates, analyzes, and makes his per- 
sonal comment on circumstance and character. We rather 
expect a novelist to reveal himself in his work. On the other 
hand, the greatest dramatists, such as Shakespeare and 
Moliere, in their plays reveal singularly little of themselves. 
It is the poorer dramatists — Dry den, Jonson, Chapman — 
who, using their characters as mouthpieces, reveal their 
^own personalities. Now that soliloquy and the aside have 
nearly gone out of use, the dramatist, when compared with 
the novelist, seems, at first thought, greatly hampered in his 
expression. He never can use description, narration, analy- 
sis, and personal comment as his own. He may use them 
only in the comparatively rare instances when they befit 
the character speaking. His mainstay is illustrative action 
appropriate to his characters, real or fictitious. Surely so 
great a difference will affect the technique of his art. The 
novel, then, may be, and often is, highly personal; the best 
drama is impersonal. 

The theatre in which the play is presented also produces 
differences between the practice of the dramatist and that 
of the novelist. No matter how small the theatre or its stage, 
it cannot permit the intimacy of relation which exists be- 
tween reader and book. A person reads a book to himself 
or to a small group. In most cases, he may choose the condi- 
tions under which he will read it, indoors or out, alone or 
with people about him, etc. In the theatre, according to the 
size of the auditorium, from one hundred to two thousand 
people watch the play, and under given conditions of light, 
heat, and ventilation. They are at a distance, in most cases, 



8 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

from the stage. It is shut off from them more than once in 
the performance by the fall of the curtain. The novel appeals 
to the mind and the emotions through the eye. The stage 
appeals to both eye and ear. Scenery, lighting, and cos- 
tuming render unnecessary many descriptions absolutely 
required in the novel. The human voice quickens the imagi- 
nation as the mere printed page cannot in most cases. These 
unlike conditions are bound to create differences in the pre- 
sentation of the same material. 

It is just this greater concreteness and consequent greater 
vividness of the staged play which makes us object to see- 
ing and hearing in the theatre that of which we have read 
with comparative calmness in the newspaper, the magazine, 
cr the novel. Daily we read in the newspapers with un- 
quickened pulse of horror after horror. Merely to see a 
fatal runaway or automobile accident sends us home sick- 
ened or unnerved. We read to the end, though horrified, the 
Red Laugh of Andreiev. Reproduce accurately on the stage 
the terrors of the book and some persons in the audience 
would probably go as mad as did people in the story. This 
difference applies in our attitude toward moral questions 
as treated in books or on the stage. "Let us instance the 
Matron of Ephesus. This acrid fable is well known; it is un- 
questionably the bitterest satire that was ever made on fe- 
male frivolity. It has been recounted a thousand times after 
Petronius, and since it pleased even in the worst copy, it was 
thought that the subject must be an equally happy one for 
the stage. . . . The character of the matron in the story pro- 
vokes a not unpleasant sarcastic smile at the audacity of 
wedded love; in the drama this becomes repulsive, horrible. 
In the drama, the soldier's persuasions do not seem nearly 
so subtle, importunate, triumphant, as in the story. In the 
story we picture to ourselves a sensitive little woman who is 
really in earnest in her grief, but succumbs to temptation 



TECHNIQUE IN DRAMA g 

and to her temperament, her weakness seems the weakness 
of her sex, we therefore conceive no especial hatred towards 
her, we deem thai what she does nearly every woman would 
have done. Even her suggestion to save her living lover by 
means of her dead husband we think we can forgive her be- 
cause of its ingenuity and presence of mind; or rather its 
very ingenuity leads us to imagine that this suggestion may 
have been appended by the malicious narrator who desired 
to end his tale with some right poisonous sting. Now in the 
drama we cannot harbour this suggestion; what we hear has 
happened in the story, we see really occur; what we would 
doubt of in the story, in the drama the evidence of our own 
eyes settles incontrovertibly. The mere possibility of such 
an action diverted us; its reality shows it in all its atrocity; 
the suggestion amused our fancy, the execution revolts our 
feelings, we turn our backs to the stage and say with the 
Lykas of Petronius, without being in Lykas's peculiar posi- 
tion : ' Had the emperor been just, he would have restored the 
body of the father to its tomb and crucified the woman.' 
And she seems to us the more to deserve this punishment, 
the less art the poet has expended on her seduction, for we 
do not then condemn in her weak woman in general, but an 
especially volatile, worthless female in particular." l 

As Lessing points out, in the printed page we can stand a 
free treatment of social question after social question which 
on the stage we should find revolting. Imagine the horror and 
outcry if we were to put upon the stage a dramatized news- 
paper or popular magazine. Just in this intense vividness, this 
great reality of effect, lies a large part of the power of the stage. 
On the other hand, this very vividness may create difficulties.. 
For instance, the novelist can say, "So, in a silence, almost 
unbroken, the long hours passed." But we watching, on the 
stage, the scene described in the novel, know perfectly that 

1 Hamburg Dramaturgy, pp. S2&-330. Lessing. Bohn ed. 



io DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

only a few minutes have elapsed. From this difficulty have 
arisen, to create a sense of time, the Elizabethan use of the 
Chorus, our entr'acte pauses, interpolated scenes which draw 
off our attention from the main story, and many other de- 
vices. But even with all the devices of the past, it is well- 
nigh impossible in a one-act play or in an act of one setting 
to create the feeling that much time has passed. Many an 
attempt has been made to dramatize in one act Stevenson's 
delightful story, The Sire de Maletroit's Door, but all have 
come to grief because the greater vividness of the stage makes 
the necessary lapse of considerable time too apparent. It is 
not difficult for the story-teller to make us believe that, be- 
tween a time late one evening and early the next morning, 
Blanche de Maletroit lost completely her liking for one man 
and became more than ready to marry Denis de Beaulieu, 

__who entered the house for the first time on this same evening. 
On the stage, motivation and dialogue must be such as to 
make so swift a change entirely convincing even though it 

-occur merely in the time of the acting. The motivation 
that was easy for the novelist as he explained how profoundly 
Blanche was moved by winning words or persuasive action 
of Denis, becomes almost impossible unless the words and 
action when seen and heard are for us equally winning and 
persuasive. The time difficulty in this story has led to all 
sorts of amusing expedients to account for Blanche's com- 
plete change of feeling. One young author went so far as to 
make the first lover of Blanche flirt so desperately with a 
maid-servant off stage that the report of his conduct by a 
jealous man-servant was the last straw to bring about the 
change in Blanche's feelings. Though aiming at a real diffi- 
culty, this device missed because it so vulgarized the original. 
When all is said and done, this time difficulty caused by 

J the greater vividness of stage presentation remains the chief 

\ obstacle in the way of the dramatist who would write of 



Ci 



TECHNIQUE IN DRAMA n 

a sequence of historical events or of evolution or devolution 
in character. Again we foresee probable differences in tech- 
nique, this time caused by the theatre, the stage, and the 
intense vividness of the latter. 

The novel is, so to speak, the work of an individual; a play 
is a cooperative effort — of author, actor, producer, and even 
audience. Though the author writes the play, it cannot be 
properly judged till the producer stages it, the players act it, 
and the audience approves or disapproves of it. Undeniably 
the dialogue of a play must be very different from that of a 
novel because the gesture, facial expression, intonation, and 
general movement of the actor may in large part replace 
description, narration, and even parts of the dialogue of a 
novel. We have good dialogue for a novel when Cleopatra 
says, " I '11 seem the thing 1 am not; Antony will be himself." 
The fact and the characterization are what count here. In 
the same scene, Antony, absorbed in adoration of Cleopatra, 
cries, when interrupted by a messenger from Rome, " Grates 
me ; the sum." Here we need the action of the speaker, his in- 
tonation, and his facial expression, if the speech is to have its 
full value. In its context, however, it is as dramatic dialogue 
perfect. In a story or novel, mere clearness would demand 
more because the author could not be sure that the reader 
would hit the right intonation or feel the gesture which must 
accompany the words. It is in large part just because dra- 
matic dialogue is a kind of shorthand written by the dramatist 
for the actor to fill out that most persons find plays more dif- 
ficult reading than novels. Few untrained imaginations 
respond quickly enough to feel the full significance of the 
printed page of the play. On the other hand, any one ac- 
customed to read plays often finds novels irritating because 
they tell so much more than is necessary for him who re- 
sponds quickly to emotionalized speech properly recorded. 

Just as dialogue for the stage is incomplete without the 



12 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

actor, so, too, the stage direction needs filling out. Made as 
concise as possible by the dramatist, it is meant to be packed 
with meaning, not only for the actor, but for the producer. 
The latter is trusted to fill out, in as full detail as his means or 
4 his desires permit, the hints of stage directions as to setting 
. and atmosphere. On the producer depends wholly the scen- 
ery, lighting, and properties used. All of this the novelist 
supplies in full detail for himself. An intelligent producer 
who reads the play with comprehension but follows only the 
letter of the stage directions gives a production no more than 
adequate at best. An uncomprehending and self-willed pro- 
ducer may easily so confuse the values of a well- written play 
as to ruin its chances. A thoroughly sympathetic and finely 
imaginative producer may, like an equally endowed actor, 
reveal genuine values in the play unsuspected even by the 
dramatist himself. Surely writing stage directions will differ 
from the narration and description of a novel. 

The novelist, as has been pointed out, deals with the indi- 
vidual reader, or through one reader with a small group. 
What has just been said makes obvious that the dramatist 
never works directly, but through intermediaries, the actors 
and the producer. More than that, he seeks to stir the in- 
dividual, not for his own sake as does the novelist, but be- 
cause he is a unit in the large group filling the theatre. The 
novelist — to make a rough generalization — works through 
the individual, the dramatist through the group. This is not 
the place to discuss in detail the relation of a dramatist to 
his audience, but it is undeniable that the psychology of the 
crowd in a theatre is not exactly the same thing as the sum 
total of the emotional responses of each individual in it to 
some given dramatic incident. The psychology of the indi- 
vidual and the psychology of the crowd are not one and the 
same. The reputation of the novelist rests very largely on 
the verdict of his individual readers. The dramatist must 



TECHNIQUE IN DRAMA 13 

move, not a considerable number of individuals, but at least 
the great majority of his audience. He must move his audi- 
ence, too, not by emotions individual to a considerable num« 
ber, but by emotions they naturally share in common or by 
his art can be made to share. The dramatist who under- 
stands only the psychology of the individual or the small 
group may write a play well characterized, but he cannot 
write a successful play till he has studied deeply the psy- 
chology of the crowd and has thus learned so to present his 
chosen subject as to gain from the group which makes the 
theatrical public the emotional response he desires. 

Obviously, then, from many different points of view, the 
great art of the novelist and the equally great art of the 
dramatist are not the same. It is the unwise holding of an 
opposite opinion which has led many a successful novelist 
into disastrous play-writing. It is the attempt to reproduce 
exactly on the stage the most popular parts of successful 
novels which has - ide many an adaptation a failure sur- 
prising to author and adapter. The whole situation is ad- 
mirably summed up in a letter of Edward Knobloch, au- 
thor of Kismet. "I have found it very useful, when asked to 
dramatize a novel, not to read it myself, but to get some one 
else to read it and tell me about it. At once, all the stuffing 
drops away, and the vital active part, the verb of the novel 
comes to the fore. If the story of a novel cannot be told by 
some one in a hundred words or so, there is apt to be no 
drama in it. If I were to write a play on Hamilton, I would 
look up an article in an encyclopaedia; then make a scenario; 
then read detailed biographies. Too much knowledge ham- 
pers. It is just for that reason that short stories are easier 
dramatized than long novels. The stories that Shakespeare 
chose for his plays are practically summaries. As long as 
they stirred his imagination, that was all he asked of them. 
Then he added his magic. Once the novel has been told, 



14 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

make the scenario. Then read the novel after. There will be 
very little to alter and only a certain amount of touches to 
add." If, in accordance with this suggestion, an adapter 
would plan out in scenario the mere story of the novel he 
wishes to adapt for the stage, would then transfer to his 
scenario only so much of the novel as perfectly fits the needs 
of the stage; and finally with the aid of the original author, 
would rewrite the portions which can be used only in part, 
and with him compose certain parts entirely anew, we should 
have a much larger proportion of permanently successful 
adaptations. 

Though it is true, then, that the novelist and the drama- 
tist work with common elements of story, characterization 
and dialogue, the differing conditions under which they work 
affect their story-telling, their characterization, and their dia- 
logue. The differences brought about by the greater speed, 
greater compactness, and greater vividness of the drama, with 
its impersonality, its cooperative nature, its appeal to the 
group rather than to the individual, create the fundamental 
technique which distinguishes the drama from the novel. 
This is the technique possessed in common by the dramatists 
of all periods. The art of the playwright is not, then, the art 
of the novelist. Throughout the centuries a very different 
technique has distinguished them. 

"But," it may be urged, "all that has been said of the dif- 
ferences between the play and the novel shows that the play 
cramps truthful presentation of life. Is not play-writirg 
an art of falsification rather than truth?" A living French 
novelist once exclaimed, "I have written novels for many 
years, with some returns in reputation but little return in 
money. Now, when a young actor helps me, I adapt one of 
my novels to the stage and this bastard art immediately 
makes it possible for me to buy automobiles." Robert Louis 
Stevenson wrote, toward the end of his life, to Mr. Sidney 



TECHNIQUE IN DRAMA 15 

Colvin, "No, I will not write a play for Irving nor for the 
devil. Can you not see that the work of falsification, which 
a play demands is, of all tasks, the most ungrateful? And I 
have done it a long while, — and nothing ever came of it." * 
The trouble with both these critics of the drama was that they 
held a view of the stage which makes it necessary to shape, to 
twist, and to contort life when represented on it. While it 
is true that selection and compression underlie all dramatic 
art, as they underlie all of the pictorial arts, it is no longer 
true, as it was in the mid-nineteenth century, that drama- 
tists believe that we should shape life to fit hampering con- 
ditions of the stage, accepted as inevitably rigid. Today we 
regard the stage, as we should, as plastic. If the stage of the 
moment forbids in any way the just representation of life, 
so much the worse for that stage; it must yield. The inge- 
nuity of author, producer, scenic artist, and stage mecha- 
nician must labor until the stage is fitted to represent life as 
the author sees it. For many years now, the cry of the drama- 
tist has been, not " Let us adapt life to the stage," but rather : 
" Let us adapt the stage, at any cost for it, at any cost of im- 
aginative effort or mechanical labor, to adequate and truth- 
ful representation of life." The art of the playwright may 
be the art of fantasy or of realism, but for him who under- 
stands it rightly, not mistaking it for another art, and labor- 
ing till he grasps and understands its seeming mysteries, it 
can nevor be an art of falsification. Instead, it is the art that, 
drawing to its aid all its sister fine arts, in splendid coopera- 
tion, moves the masses of men as does no other art. As Sir 
Arthur Pinero has said, "The art — the great and fasci- 
nating and most difficult art — of the modern dramatist is* 
nothing else than to achieve that compression of life which 
the stage undoubtedly demands, without falsification." 2 

1 Robert Louis Stevenson : the Dramatist, p. SO. Sir A. Pinero. Chiswick Press, London. 

• Urn. 



CHAPTER II 
THE ESSENTIALS OF DRAMA: ACTION AND EMOTION 

/ — What is the common aim of all dramatists? Twofold: first 
as promptly as possible to win the attention of the audience; 
secondly, to hold that interest steady or, better, to increase 

V^ it till the final curtain falls. It is the time limit to which all 
dramatists are subject which makes the immediate winning 
of attention necessary. The dramatist has no time to waste. 

CHow is he to win this attention? By what is done in the play; 
by characterization; by the language the people of his play 
speak; or by a combination of two or more of these. Today 
we hear much discussion whether it is what is done, i.e. 
action, or characterization, or dialogue which most interests 
a public. Which is the chief essential in good drama? His- 
tory shows indisputably that the drama in its beginnings, 
no matter where we look, depended most on action. The 
earliest extant specimen of drama in England, circa 967, 
shows clearly the essential relations of action, characteriza- 
tion, and dialogue in drama at its outset. The italics in the 
following show the action; the roman type the dialogue. 

While the third lesson is being chanted, let four brotliers vest them- 
selves, one of whom, vested in an alb, enters as if to do something, 
and, in an inconspicuous way, approaches the place where the sep- 
ulchre is, and there holding a palm in his hand, sits quiet. While the 
third respond is chanted, let the three others approach, all alike vested 
in copes, bearing thuribles (censers) with incense in their hands, and, 
with hesitating steps, in the semblance of persons seeking something, 
let them come before the place of the sepulchre. These things are done, 
indeed, in representation of the angel sitting within the tomb and oj 
the women who came with spices to anoint the body of Jesus. When, 
therefore, he who is seated sees the three approaching as if wandering 



THE ESSENTIALS OF DRAMA 17 

about and seeking something, lei him begin to sing melodiously and 
in a voice moderately loud 

Whom seek you at the sepulchre, O Christians? 
When this has been sung to the end, let the three respond in unison, 

Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified, O heavenly one. 

Then he, 

He is not here; he has risen, as was foretold. 

Go ye, announcing that he has risen from the dead. 

Upon the utterance of this command, let the three turn to the choir and 
say, 

Alleluia! the Lord is risen. 

This said, let him, still remaining seated, say, as if calling them back, 
the antiphon, 

Come, and see the place where the Lord lay. 
Alleluia, Alleluia! 

Having said this, however, let him rise and lift the veil, and show them 
the place empty of the cross, but the clothes, only, laid there with which 
the cross was wrapped. When they see this, let them set down the thu- 
ribles that they have carried within that same sepulchre, and take up 
the cloth and hold it up before the clergy, and, as if in testimony that 
the Lord has risen and is not now wrapped therein, let them sing this 
antiphon : 

The Lord has risen from the tomb, 
Who for us was crucified, 

and let them lay the cloth upon the altar. The antiphon finished, let 
the prior, rejoicing with them in the triumph of our King, in that, 
death vanquislied, he has risen, begin the hymn, 

We praise thee, O Lord. 

This begun, all the bells are rung together, at the end of which let th* 
priest say tlie verse, 

In thy resurrection, O Christ, 

as far as this word, and let him begin Matins, saying, 

O Lord, hasten to my aid! x 

1 Early Plays, pp. 6-6. Riverside Literature Series. C. G. Child. Houghton Mifflin Co, 
Boston. 



18 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

Obviously in this little play the directions for imitative 
movement fill three quarters of the space; dialogue fills one 
quarter; characterization, except as the accompanying 
_music may very faintly have suggested it, there is none. 
Historically studied, the English drama shows that char- 
acterization appeared as an added interest when the inter- 
est of action was already well established. The value of 
dialogue for its own sake was recognized even later. 

What is true of the English drama is of course equally 
true of all Continental drama which, like the English drama, 
had its origin in the Trope and the Miracle Play. Even, 
however, if we go farther back, to the origin of Greek Drama 
in the Ballad Dance we shall find the same results. The 
Ballad Dance consisted "in the combination of speech, 
music, and that imitative gesture which, for lack of a 
better word, we are obliged to call dancing. It is very im- 
portant, however, to guard against modern associations 
with this term. Dances in which men and women joined 
are almost unknown to Greek antiquity, and to say of a 
guest at a banquet that he danced would suggest intoxi- 
cation. The real dancing of the Greeks is a lost art, of 
which the modern ballet is a corruption, and the orator's 
action a faint survival. It was an art which used bodily 
motion to convey thought: as in speech the tongue artic- 
ulated words, so in dancing the body swayed and gesticu- 
lated into meaning. ... In epic poetry, where thought 
takes the form of simple narrative, the speech (Greek epos) 
of the Ballad Dance triumphs over the other two elements. 
Lyric poetry consists in meditation or highly wrought 
description taking such forms as odes, sonnets, hymns, — 
poetry that lends itself to elaborate rhythms and other 
devices of musical art: here the music is the element of 
the Ballad Dance which has come to the front. And the 
imitative gesture has triumphed over the speech and the 



THE ESSENTIALS OF DRAMA 19 

music in the case of the third branch of poetry; drama is 
thought expressed in action." ■ 

Imitative movement is the drama of the savage. 

"An Aleut, who was armed with a bow, represented a 
hunter, another a bird. The former expressed by gestures 
how very glad he was he had found so fine a bird; neverthe- 
less he would not kill it. The other imitated the motions of 
a bird seeking to escape the hunter. He at last, after a long 
delay, pulled his bow and shot: the bird reeled, fell, and died. 
The hunter danced for joy; but finally he became troubled, 
repented having killed so fine a bird, and lamented it. Sud- 
denly the dead bird rose, turned into a beautiful woman, and 
fell into the hunter's arms." 2 

Look where we will, then, — at the beginnings of drama 
in Greece, in England centuries later, or among savage 
peoples today — the chief essential in winning and holding 
the attention of the spectator was imitative movement by 
the actors, that is, physical action. Nor, as the drama 
develops, does physical action cease to be central. The 
most elaborate of the Miracle Plays, the Towneley Second 
Shepherds* Play and the Brome Abraham and Isaac 3 prove 
this. In the former we are of course interested in the char- 
acterization of the Shepherds and Mak, but would this hold 
us without the stealing of the sheep and the varied action 
attending its concealment and discovery in 'the house of 
Mak? Undoubtedly in the Abraham and Isaac character- 
ization counts for more, but we have the journey to the 
Mount, the preparations for the sacrifice, the binding of the 
boy's eyes, the repeatedly upraised sword, the farewell em- 
bracings, the very dramatic coming of the Angel, and the joy- 
ful sacrifice of the sheep when the child is released. Without 

1 The Ancient Classical Drama, pp. S-4. R. G. Moulton. Clarendon Press, Oxford. 

* Quoted in The Development of the Drama, pp. 10-11. Copyright, 1903, by Brander 
Matthews. Chas. Scribner's Sons, New York. 

« For these two plays see Early Plays. Riverside Literature Series. C. G. Child. Hough- 
ton Mifflin Co., Boston. 



20 DRAMATIC TECHNIOUE 

all this central action, the fine characterization of the play 
would lose its significance. In Shakespeare's day, audiences 
again and again, as they watched plays of Dekker, Heywood, 
and many another dramatist, willingly accepted inadequate 
characterization and weak dialogue so long as the action 
was absorbing. Just this interest in, for instance, The Four 
Prentices, or the various Ages l of Thomas Heywood, was 
burlesqued by Francis Beaumont in The Knight of the Burn- 
ing Pestle. It may be urged that the plays of Racine and 
Corneille, as well as the Restoration Comedy in England, 
show characterization and dialogue predominant. It should 
be remembered, however, that Corneille and Racine, as well 
as the Restoration writers of comedy wrote primarily for the 
Court group and not for the public at large. Theirs was the 
cultivated audience of the time, proud of its special literary 
and dramatic standards. Around and about these drama- 
tists were the writers of popular entertainment, which de- 
pended on action. In England, we must remember that 
Wycherley and Vanbrugh, who are by no means without 
action in their plays, belong to Restoration Comedy as 
much as Etherege or Congreve, and that the Heroic Drama, 
in which action was absolutely central, divided the favor of 
even the Court public with the Comedy of Manners. The 
fact is, the history of the Drama shows that only rarely does 
even a group of people for a brief time care more for plays 
I of characterization and dialogue than for plays of action. 
Throughout the ages, the great public, cultivated as well as 
uncultivated, have cared for action first, then, as aids to a 
better understanding of the action of the story, for charac- 
terization and dialogue. Now, for more than a century, the 
play of mere action has been so popular that it has been rec- 
ognized as a special form, namely, melodrama. This type 
of play, in which characterization and dialogue have usually 

1 Works. 6 vols. Pearson, London. 



THE ESSENTIALS OF DRAMA 21 

been entirely subordinated to action, has been the most 
widely at tended. Today the motion picture show has driven 
mere melodrama from our theatres, yet who will deny that 
the "movie" in its present form subordinates everything 
to action? Even the most ambitious specimens, such as 
Cabiria and The Birth of a Nation, finding their audiences 
restless under frequent use of the explanatory "titles " 
which make clear what cannot be clearly shown in action, 
hasten to depict some man hunt, some daring leap from a 
high cliff into the sea, or a wild onrush of galloping white- 
clad figures of the Ku Klux Klan. From the practice of cen- 
turies the feeling that action is really central in drama has 
become instinctive with most persons who write plays with- 
out preconceived theories. Watch a child making his first 
attempt at play- writing. In ninety-nine cases out of a hun- 
dred, the play will contain little except action. There will 
be slight characterization, if any, and the dialogue will be 
mediocre at best. The young writer has depended almost 
entirely upon action because instinctively, when he thinks of 
drama, he thinks of action. 

Nor, if we paused to consider, is this dependence of drama 
upon action surprising. " From emotions to emotions " is the 
formula for any good play. To paraphrase a principle of 
geometry, "A play is the shortest distance from emotions to 
emotions." The emotions to be reached are those of the au- 
dience. The emotions conveyed are those of the people on 
the stage or of the dramatist as he has watched the people 

C represented. Just herein lies the importance of action for the 
dramatist : it is his quickest means of arousing emotion in an 
audience. Which is more popular with the masses, the man 
of action or the thinker? The world at large believes, and 
rightly that, as a rule, "Actions speak louder than words." 
( The dramatist knows that not what a man thinks he thinks, 
^ but what at a crisis he does, instinctively, spontaneously, 



22 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

best shows his character. The dramatist knows, too, that 
though we may think, when discussing patriotism in the ab- 
stract, that we have firm ideas about it, what reveals our 
real beliefs is our action at a crisis in the history of our coun- 
try. Many believed from the talk of German Socialists that 
they would not support their Government in the case of war. 
Their actions have shown far more clearly than their words 
their real beliefs. Ulster sounded as hostile as possible to 
England not long ago, but when the call upon her loyalty 
came she did not prove false. Is it any wonder, then, that 
popular vote has declared action the best revealer of feeling 
and, therefore, that the dramatist, in writing his plays, de- 
pends first of all upon action? If any one is disposed to cavil 
at action as popular merely with the masses and the less 
cultivated, let him ask himself, "What, primarily in other 
people interests me — what these people do or why they do 
it?" Even if he belong to the group, relatively very small in 
the mass of humanity, most interested by "Why did these 
people do this?" he must admit that till he knows clearly 
what the people did, he cannot take up the question which 
more interests him. For the majority of auditors, action is of 
first importance in drama: even for the group which cares 
far more for characterization and dialogue it is necessary 
as preparing the way for that characterization and dialogue 
on which they insist. 

Consider for a moment the nature of the attention which 
a dramatist may arouse. Of course it may be only of the sune 
sort which an audience gives a lecturer on a historical or 
scientific subject, — a readiness to hear and to try to under- 
stand what he has to present, — close but unemotional at- 
tention. Comparatively few people, however, are capable 
of sustained attention when their emotions are not called 
upon. How many lectures last over an hour? Is not the 
"popular lecturer" popular largely because he works into 



THE ESSENTIALS OF DRAMA 23 

his lecture many anecdotes and dramatic illustrations in 
Older to avoid or to lighten the strain of close, sustained 
at tent ion? There is, undoubtedly, a public which can listen 
to ideas with the same keen enjoyment which most audi- 
tors feel when listening to something which stirs them emo- 
tionally, but as compared with the general public it is 
infinitesimal. Understanding this, the dramatist stirs the 
emotions of his hearers by the most concrete means at his 
command, his quickest communication from brain to brain, 
— action just for itself or illustrating character. The infe- 
riority to action of mere exposition as a creator of interest 
the two following extracts show. 

ACT I. SCENE 1. Britain. The garden of Cymbeline's palace 
Enter two gentlemen 

1. Gent. You do not meet a man but frowns. Our bloods 
No more obey the heavens than our courtiers 

Still seem as does the King. 

2. Gent. But what's the matter? 

1. Gent. His daughter, and the heir of's kingdom, whom 
He purpos'd to his wife's sole son — a widow 

That late he married — hath referred herself 
Unto a poor but worthy gentleman. She's wedded, 
Her husband banish'd, she imprison'd ; all 
Is outward sorrow; though I think the King 
Be touched at very heart. 

2. Gent. None but the King? 

1. Gent. He that hath lost her too; so is the Queen, 
That most desir'd the match : but not a courtier, 
Although they wear their faces to the bent 

Of the King's look, hath a heart that is not 
Glad at the thing they scowl at. 

2. Gent. And why so? 

1. Gent. He that hath miss'd the Princess is a thing 
Too bad for bad report; and he that hath her — 
I mean, that married her, alack, good man! 
And therefore banish'd — is a creature such 



24 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

As, to seek through the regions of the earth 
For one his like, there would be something failing 
In him that should compare. I do not think 
So fair an outward, and such stuff within 
Endows a man but he. 
2. Gent. You speak him far. 

1. Gent. I do extend him, sir, within himself, 
Crush him together rather than unfold 

His measure duly. 

2. Gent. What's his name and birth? 

1. Gent. I cannot delve him to the root. His father 
Was call'd Sicilius, who did gain his honour 
Against the Romans with Cassibelan, 

But had his titles by Tenantius whom 

He serv'd with glory and admir'd success, 

So gain'd the sur-addition Leonatus; 

And hath, besides this gentleman in question, 

Two other sons, who in the wars o' the time 

Died with their swords in hand ; for which their father 

Then old and fond of issue, took such sorrow 

That he quit being, and his gentle lady, 

Big of this gentleman our theme, deceas'd 

As he was born. The King he takes the babe 

To his protection, calls him Posthumus Leonatus, 

Breeds him and makes him of his bed chamber, 

Puts to him all the learnings that his time 

Could make him the receiver of; which he took, 

As we do air, fast as 'twas minist'red, 

And in's spring became a harvest; liv'd in court — ■ 

Which rare it is to do — most prais'd, most lov'd, 

A sample to the youngest, to the more mature 

A glass that feated them, and to the graver 

A child that guided dotards; to his mistress, 

For whom he is now banish'd, — her own price 

Proclaims how she esteem'd him and his virtue; 

By her election may be truly read 

What kind of man he is. 

2. Gent. I honour him 

Even out of your report. But, pray you, tell me 
Is she sole child to the King? 

1. Gent. His only child. 



THE ESSENTIALS OF DRAMA 25 

lit- had two sons, — if this be worth your hearing, 
Mark it — the eldest of them at three years old, 
I' the swatliing-clothes the other, from their nursery 
Wew stolen, and to this hour no guess in knowledge 
Which way they went. 
2. Gent. How long is this ago? 

1. Gent. Some twenty years. 

2. Gent. That a King's children should be so convey'd, 
So slackly guarded and the search so slow, 

That could not trace them! 

1. Gent. Howso'er 'tis strange, 
Or that the negligence may well be laughed at, 
Yet it is true, sir. 

2. Gent. I do well believe you. 

1. Gent. We must forbear; here comes the gentleman, 
The Queen and Princess. {Exeunt.) 1 

Here Shakespeare trusts mere exposition to rouse inter- 
est. His speakers merely question and answer, showing 
little characterization and practically no emotion. Is this 
extract as interesting as the following? 

Fitz Urse. {Catches hold of the last flying monk.) Where is the 
traitor Becket? 

Becket. Here. 

No traitor to the King, but Priest of God, 
Primate of England. {Descending into the transept.) 

I am he ye seek. 
What would ye have of me? 

Fitz Urse. Your life. 

De Tracy. Your life. 

De Morville. Save that you will absolve the bishops. 

Becket. Never, — 

Except they make submission to the Church. 
You had my answer to that cry before. 

De Morville! W'hy, then you are a dead man; flee! 

Beckd. I will not 

I am readier to be slain than thou to slay. 
Hugh, I know well that thou hast but half a heart 

1 Cymbeline, Act r, Scene 1. 



26 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

To bathe this sacred pavement with my blood. 
God pardon thee and these, but God's full curse 
Shatter you all to pieces if ye harm 
One of my flock! 

Fitz XJrse. Seize him and carry him! 

Come with us — nay — thou art our prisoner — come! 

{Fitz XJrse lays hold of Archbishop's pall.) 
Becket. Down! 

{Throws him headlong.) 
De MorvUle. Ay, make him prisoner, do not harm the man. 
Fitz XJrse. {Advances with drawn sword.) I told thee that I should 

remember thee! 
Becket. Profligate pander! 
Fitz XJrse. Do you hear that? Strike, strike. 

{Strikes the Archbishop and wounds him in the forehead.) 
Becket. {Covers his eyes with his hand.) I do commend my cause 

to God. 
Fitz XJrse. Strike him, Tracy! 

Rosamund. {Rushing down the steps from the choir.) No, no, no, 
no. Mercy, Mercy, 
As you would hope for mercy. 

Fitz XJrse. Strike, I say. 

Grim. O, God, O, noble knight, O, sacrilege! 

Fitz XJrse. Strike! I say. 

De Tracy. There is my answer then. 

{Sword falls on Grim's arm, and glances from it, wounding 
Becket.) 
This last to rid thee of a world of brawls! 

Becket. {Falling on his knees.) Into thy hands, O Lord — into 
thy hands — ! {Sinks prone.) 

De Brito. The traitor's dead, and will arise no more. 

{De Brito, De Tracy, Fitz XJrse rush out, crying " King's 
men ! " De MorvUle follows slowly Flashes of lightning 
through the Cathedral. Rosamund seen kneeling at the 
body of Becket.) 1 

The physical action of this extract instantly grips atten- 
tion. Interested at once by this action, shortly we rush on un- 

1 Becket: A Tragedy. Lord Tennyson. Arranged for the stage by Henry Irving. Maemil- 
Ian & Co., London and New York. 



f. 



THE ESSENTIALS OF DRAMA 27 

thinking, but feeling more and more intensely. In this ex- 
tract action is everywhere. The actionless Cymbeline is un- 
dramatic. This extract is intensely dramatic. 

Just what, however, is this action which in drama is so 
essential? To most people it means physical or bodily action 
which rouses sympathy or dislike in an audience. The ac- 
tion of melodrama certainly exists largely for itself. We ex- 
pect and get little but physical action for its own sake when 
a play is announced as was the well-known melodrama, A 
Race for Life. 

As Melodramatically and Masterfully Stirring, Striking and Sen- 
sational as Phil Sheridan's Famous Ride. 
Superb, Stupendous Scenes in Sunset Regions. 
Wilderness Wooings Where Wild Roses Grow. 
The Lights and Shades of Rugged Border Life. 
Chinese Comedy to Make Confucius Chuckle. 
The Realism of the Ranch and Race Track. 
The Hero Horse That Won a Human Life. 
An Equine Beauty Foils a Murderous Beast. 
Commingled Gleams of Gladness, Grief, and Guilt. 
Dope, Dynamite and Devilish Treachery Distanced. 
Continuous Climaxes That Come Like Cloudbursts. 

Some plays depend almost wholly upon mere bustle and 
rapidly shifting movement, much of it wholly unnecessary 
to the plot. Large portions of many recent musical comedies 
illustrate this. Such unnecessary but crudely effective move- 
ment Stevenson burlesqued more than once in the stage di- 
rections of his Macaire. 

ACT I. SCENE 1 

Aline and maids; to whom Fiddlers; aftencards Dumont and 
Charles. As the curtain rises, the sound of the violin is heard approach- 
ing. Aline and the inn servants, who are discovered laying the table, 
dance up to door L.C., to meet the Fiddlers, who enter likewise danc- 
ing to their own music. Air; "Haste to the Wedding." The Fiddlers 



28 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

exeunt playing into house, R.TJ.E. Aline and Maids dance bach to 
table, which they proceed to arrange. 

Aline. Well, give me fiddles: fiddles and a wedding feast. It 
tickles your heart till your heels make a runaway match of it. I 
don't mind extra work, I don't, so long as there's fun about it. 
Hand me up that pile of plates. The quinces there, before the 
bride. Stick a pink in the Notary's glass: that's the girl he's 
courting. 

Dumont. (Entering with Charles.) Good girls, good girls ! Charles, 
in ten minutes from now what happy faces will smile around that 
board! 

ACT H. SCENE 2 

To these all the former characters, less the Notary. The fiddlers are 
heard without, playing dolefully. Air : "0, dear, what can the matter 
be?" in time to which the procession enters. 

Macaire. Well, friends, what cheer? 
Aline. No wedding, no wedding! Together 

Goriot. I told 'ee he can't, and he can' 
Dumont. Dear, dear me. 

Ernestine. They won't let us marry. \ Together 

Charles. No wife, no father, no nothing. 
Curate. The facts have justified the worst anticipations of our 
absent friend, the Notary. 

Macaire. I perceive I must reveal myself. 1 

If physical action in and of itself is so often dramatic, 
is all physical action dramatic? That is, does it always? 
create emotion in an onlooker? No. It goes for naught un* 
less it rouses his interest. Of itself, or because of the presen- 
tation given it by the dramatist, it must rouse in the onlooker 
an emotional response. A boy seeing "Crazy Mary" stalk- 
ing the street in bedizened finery and bowing right and left, 
may see nothing interesting in her. More probably her 
actions w T ill move him to jeer and jibe at her. Let some spec- 
tator, however, tell the boy of the tragedy in Crazy Mary's 

» Macaire. By R. L. Stevenson and W. E. Henley. Chas. Scribner's Sons, New York. 
Copyright, 1895, by Stone & Kimball, Chicago. 



J 



THE ESSENTIALS OF DRAMA 29 

younger life which left her unbalanced, and, if he has any 
right feeling, the boy's attitude will begin to change. He 
may even give over the jeering he has begun. Reveal to him 
exactly what is passing in the crazed mind of the woman, 
I nd his mere interest will probably turn to sympathy. Char- 
acterization, preceding and accompanying action, creates 

** sympathy or repulsion for the figure or figures involved. 
This sympathy or repulsion in turn converts mere interest 
into emotional response of the keenest kind. Though phys- 
ical action is undoubtedly fundamental in drama, no higher 
form than crude melodrama or crude farce can develop till 
\ characterization appears to explain and interpret action. 
The following extracts from Robertson's Home show phys- 
ical action, silly it is true, yet developing characterization 

I by illustrative action. The first, even as it amuses, char- 
acterizes the timid Bertie, and the second shows the mild 
mentality and extreme confusion of the two central figures. 

Mr. Dorrison. Will you give Mrs. Pinchbeck your arm, Colonel? 
Dora, my dear. (Taking Dora's.) Lucy, Captain Mountraffe will 
— (Sees him asleep.) Ah, Lucy, you must follow by yourself. 

(Colonel takes off Mrs. Pinchbeck; Dorrison, Dora. At that 
moment, Bertie enters window, R., and runs to Lucy, 
kneels at her feet, and is about to kiss her hand. Mount- 
raffe yawns, which frightens Bertie. He is running off 
as the drop falls quickly.) 

End of Act I 

Colonel. I'd always give my eyes to be alone with this girl for 
five minutes, and whenever I am alone with her, I haven't a word 
to say for myself. (Aloud.) That music, Miss Thornhaugh? 

Dora. (At piano.) Yes. 

Col. (Aside.) As if it could be anything else. How stupid of me. 
(Aloud.) New music? 

Dora. Yes. 

Col. New laid — I mean, fresh from the country — fresh from 
London, or — yes — I — (Dora sits on music stool at piano. This 



30 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

scene is played with great constraint on both sides. Colonel bends over 
Dora at piano.) Going to play any of it now? 

Dora. No. I must practise it first. I can't play at sight. 
Col. Can't you really? Don't you believe in — music — at first 
sight? 

(Dora drops a music book. Colonel picks it up. Dora tries 
to pick it up. They knock their heads together; mutual 
confusion. As they rise, each has hold of the book.) 

n 1 ' \l beg your pardon. (Both trembling.) 

Dora. It's nothing. 

Col. Nothing, quite so. 

(Dora sits on music stool. As she does so, both leave hold of 
the book and it falls again.) 

Dora. I thought you had the book. 

Col. (Picking it up.) And I thought you had it, and it appears 
that neither of us had it. Ha! ha! (Aside.) Fool that I am! (Dora 
sits thoughtfully, Colonel bending over her; a pause.) Won't you 
play something? 

Dora. I don't know how to play. 

Col. Oh, well, play the other one. (They resume their attitudes; 
a pause.) The weather has been very warm today, has it not? 

Dora. Very. 

Col. Looks like thunder to me. 

Dora. Does it? 

Col. Are you fond of thunder — I mean fond of music? I should 
say are you fond of lightning? (Dora touches keys of piano mechani- 
cally.) Do play something. 

Dora. No, I — I didn't think of what I was doing. What were 
you talking about? 

Col. About? You — me — no! About thunder — music — I 
mean lightning. 

Dora. I'm afraid of lightning. (Act II.; l 

The first scene of Act I of Romeo and Juliet is full of inter- 
esting physical action — quarrels, fighting, and the halting 
of the fight by the angry Prince. The physical action, how- 
ever, characterizes in every instance, from the servants of 
the two factions to Tybalt, Benvolio, the Capulets, the Mon- 

» B. M. DeWitt, New York City. 



THE ESSENTIALS OF DRAMA 31 

tagnes, and the Prince. Moreover, this interesting physical 
action, which is all the more interesting because it charac- 
terizes, is interesting in the third place because in every in- 
stance it helps to an understanding of the story. It shows 
so intense an enmity between the two houses that even the 
servants cannot meet in the streets without quarreling. By 
its characterization it prepares for the parts Benvolio and 
Tybalt are to play in later scenes. It motivates the edict of 
banishment which is essential if the tragedy of the play is to 
occur. 

SCENE 1. Verona. A public place 

Enter Sampson and Gregory, of the house of Capulet, with swords 
and bucklers 

Sampson. Gregory, on my word, we'll not carry coals. 

Gregory. No, for then we should be colliers. 

Sam. I mean, an we be in choler, we'll draw. 

Gre. Ay, while you live, draw your neck out o' the collar. 

Sam. I strike quickly, being mov'd. 

Gre. But thou art not quickly mov'd to strike. 

Sam. A dog of the house of Montague moves me. 

Draw thy tool; here comes two of the house of Montague. 
Enter two other serving-men. (Abraham and BaUhasar.) 

Sam. My naked weapon is out. Quarrel, I will back thee. 
Gre. How! turn thy back and run? 
Sam. Fear me not. 
Gre. No, marry; I fear thee! 

Sam. Let us take the law of our sides; let them begin. 
Gre. I will frown as I pass by, and let them take it as they list. 
Sam. Nay, as they dare. I will bite my thumb at them; which 
is disgrace to them if they bare it. 

Abraham. Do you bite your thumb at us, sir? 

Sam. I do bite my thumb, sir. 

Abr. Do you bite your thumb at us, sir? 

Sam. (Aside to Gre.) Is the law of our side, if I say ay? 



32 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

Gre. No. 

Sam. No, sir, I do not bite my thumb at you, sir; but I bite my 
thumb, sir. 

Gre. Do you quarrel, sir? 

Abr. Quarrel, sir? No, sir. 

Sam. But if you do, sir, I am for you. I serve as good a man as 
you. 

Abr. No better. 

Sam. Well, sir. 

Enter Benvolio. 

Ger. Say "better"; here comes one of my master's kinsmen. 

Sam. Yes, better, sir. 

Abr. You lie. 

Sam. Draw, if you be men. Gregory, remember thy swashing 
blow. {Theyfight.) 

Benvolio. Part, fools! 
Put up your swords; you know not what you do. 

(Beats down their swords.) 

Enter Tybal 

Tybalt. What, art thou drawn among these heartless hinds? 
Turn thee, Benvolio, look upon thy death. 

Ben. I do but keep the peace. Put up thy sword, 
Or manage it to part these men with me. 

Tyb. What, drawn, and talk of peace! I hate the word 
As I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee. 
Have at thee, coward ! ( They fight.) 

Enter three or four citizens, and officers, with clubs or partisans 

Officer. Clubs, bills, and partisans! Strike! Beat them down! 
Down with the Capulets! down with the Montagues! 

Enter Capulet in his gown and Lady Capulet 

Capulet. What noise is this? Give me my long sword, ho! 
Lady Capulet. A crutch, a crutch! Why call you for a sword? 
Cap, My sword, I say! Old Montague is come, 
And nourishes his blade in spite of me. 

Enter Montague and Lady Montague 

Montague. Thou villain, Capulet, — Hold me not, let me go. 
Lady Montague. Thou shalt not stir one foot to seek a foe. 



THE ESSENTIALS OF DRAMA 33 

Enter Prince, with his train 

Prince. Rebellious subjects, enemies to peace, 
Profaners of this neighbour-stained steel, — 
WiD they not hear? — What, ho! you men, you beasts, 
That quench the fire of your pernicious rage 
With purple fountains issuing from your veins, 
On pain of torture, from those bloody hands 
Throw your mistemper'd weapons to the ground, 
And hear the sentence of your moved prince. 
Three civil brawls, bred of an airy word, 
By thee, old Capulet, and Montague, 
Have thrice disturb'd the quiet of our streets, 
And made Verona's ancient citizens 
Cast by their grave beseeming ornaments, 
To wield old partisans, in hands as old, 
Cank'red with peace, to part your cank'red hate; 
If ever you disturb our streets again 
Your lives shall pay the forfeit of the peace. 
For this time, all the rest depart away. 
You, Capulet, shall go along with me; 
And Montague, come you this afternoon, 
To know our farther pleasure in this case, 
To old Free-town, our common judgement place, 
Once more, on pain of death, all men depart. 

(Exeunt all but Montague, Lady Montague, and Benvolio.) 

Even physical action, then, may interest for itself, or be- 
cause it characterizes, or because it helps on the story, or for 
two or more of these reasons. 

If we examine other extracts from famous plays we shall, 
however, find ourselves wondering whether action in drama 
must not mean something besides mere physical action. In 
the opening scene of La Princesse Georges, by Dumas fils, the 
physical action is neither large in amount nor varied, but 
the scene is undeniably dramatic, for emotions represented 
create prompt emotional response in us. 



34 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

ACT I. SCENE 1 

A Drawing Room 

Severine, watching near the window, with the curtain drawn a 
little aside, then Rosalie 

Severine. Rosalie! At last! What a night I have gone through! 
Sixteen hours of waiting! (To Rosalie, who enters.) Well? 

Rosalie. Madame, the Princess must be calm. 

Severine. Don't call me Princess. That's wasting time. 

Rosalie. Madame has not slept? 

Severine. No. 

Rosalie. I suspected as much. 

Severine, Tell me, is it true? 

Rosalie. Yes. 

Severine. The details, then. 

Rosalie. Well, then, last evening I followed the Prince, who 
went to the Western Railway, as he had told Madame that he would 
do, to take the train at half past nine; only, instead of buying a 
ticket for Versailles, he took one for Rouen. 

Severine. But he was alone? 

Rosalie. Yes. But five minutes after he arrived, she came. 

Severine. Who was the woman? 

Rosalie. Alas, Madame knows her better than I! 

Severine. It is some one whom I know? 

Rosalie. Yes. 

Severine. Not one of those women? — 

Rosalie. It is one of your intimate friends, of the best social 
position. 

Severine. Valentine? Bertha? No. — The Baroness? 

Rosalie. The Countess Sylvanie. 

Severine. She? Impossible! She stayed here, with me, until at 
least nine o'clock. We dined alone together. 

Rosalie. She was making sure that you didn't suspect anything. 

Severine. Indeed, nothing. And she came to the train at what 
hour? 

Rosalie. At twenty-five minutes past nine. 

Severine. So, in twenty-five minutes — 

Rosalie. She went home; she changed her dress (she arrived all 
in black) ; she went to the St. Lazare Station. It is true that only 
your garden and hers separate her house from yours; that she has 



THE ESSENTIALS OF DRAMA 35 

the best horses in Paris; and that she is accustomed to doing this 
sort of thing, if I may believe what I have heard. 

Severine. To what a pass we have come! My most intimate 
friend! Did they speak to each other? 1 

This scene wins our attention because it reveals in Sever- 
ine a mental state which in itself interests and moves us far 
more than the mere physical action. 

What has been said of La Princesse Georges is even more 
true of the ending of Marlowe's Faustus. 

Faustus. Ah, Faustus: 
Now hast thou but one bare hour to live, 
And then thou must be damn'd perpetually! 
Stand still, you ever-moving spheres of heaven, 
That time may cease, and midnight never come; 
Fair Nature's eye, rise, rise again and make 
Perpetual day ; or let this hour be but 
A year, a month, a week, a natural day, 
That Faustus may repent and save his soul! 
lente, lente currite, noctis equi I 
The stars move still, time runs, the clock will strike, 
The devil will come, and Faustus will be damn'd. 

All beasts are happy, 

For when they die, 

Their souls are soon dissolv'd in elements; 
But mine must live still to be plagu'd in hell. 
Curs'd be the parents that engender'd me! 
No, Faustus, curse thyself, curse Lucifer 
That hath deprived thee of the joys of heaven. 

{The clock strikes twelve.) 
O, it strikes, it strikes! Now body, turn to air, 
Or Lucifer will bear thee quick to hell! 

{Thunder and lightning.) 
0, soul, be chang'd into little water-drops, 
And fall into the ocean, ne'er be found! 

Enter Devils 
My God, my God, look not so fierce on me! 
Adders and serpents, let me breathe a while! 

1 Thidtre ComvUt, vol. v. Dumas fib. Calmann L6vy, Pari*. 



36 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

Ugly hell, gape not! come not, Lucifer! 
I'll burn my books! — Ah, Mephistophilis! 

(Exeunt Devils with Faustus.) 1 

Though this scene doubtless requires physical action as 
the tortured Faustus flings himself about the stage, would 
^hat action be clear enough to move us greatly were it not 
/for the characterization of the preceding scenes and the mas- 
terly phrasing which exactly reveals the tortured soul? Is it 
not a mental state rather than physical action which moves 
us here? Surely. 

The fact is, the greatest drama of all time, and the larger 
part of the drama of the past twenty years, uses action much 
less for its own sake than to reveal mental states which are 
to rouse sympathy or repulsion in an audience. In brief, 
•marked mental activity may be quite as dramatic as mere 
physical action. Hamlet may sit quietly by his fire as he 
speaks the soliloquy "To be, or not to be," yet by what we 
^lready know of him and what the lines reveal we are moved 
I to the deepest sympathy for his tortured state. There is al- 
most no physical movement as Percinet reads to Sylvette 
from Romeo and Juliet in the opening pages of Rostand's 
Romancers, yet we are amused and pleased by their excited 
delight. 

ACT I 

The stage is cut in two by an old wall, mossy and garlanded by luxu- 
rious vines. To the right, a corner of Bergamiris park; to the left a 
corner of Pasquinofs. On each side, against the wall, a bench. 

SCENE 1. Sylvette. Percinet. When the curtain rises, Percinet 
is seated on the wall, with a book on his knees, from which he is read- 
ing to Sylvette. She stands on the bench in her father's park, her chin 
in her hands, her elbows against the wall, listening attentively. 

Sylvette. O Monsieur Percinet, how beautiful it is! 
Percinet. Isn't it? Hear Romeo's reply! (He reads.) 

1 Marlowe's Faustus, Act v. Mermaid Series or Everyman's Library. 



THE ESSENTIALS OF DRAMA 37 

"It was the lark, the herald of the morn, 
No nightingale; look, love, what envious streaks 
Do lace the severing clouds in yonder east: 
Night's candles are burnt out and jocund day 
Stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops: 
I must be gone. . . ." 
Si/lvrttc. (Alert, with animation.) Sh! 

Percinet. (Listens a moment, then) No one! So, mademoiselle, 
don't have the air of an affrighted birdling on a branch, ready 
to spread wing at the slightest sound. Hear the immortal lovers 
talking: 
She. "Yon light is not day-light, I know it, I: 

It is some meteor that the sun exhales, 
To be to thee this night a torch bearer." 
Be. "Let me be ta'en, let me be put to death; 

I am content, so thou wilt have it so. 
I'll say yon gray is not the morning's eye; 
Tis but the pale reflex of Cynthia's brow; 
Nor that is not the lark, whose notes do beat 
The vaulty heaven so high above our heads; 
I have more care to stay than will to go : 
Come, death, and welcome! Juliet wills it so." 
Sylvette. Oh, no! I won't have him talk of that; if he does, I shall 
cry. 

Percinet. Then we'll shut our book till tomorrow, and, since you 
wish it, let sweet Romeo live. 

(He closes the book and looks about him.) 
What an adorable spot! It seems made for lulling one's self with 
the lines of the great William. 1 



. 



Here is great activity, but it is mental rather than physi- 
cal action. To make it rouse us to the desired emotional re- 
sponse, good characterization and wisely chosen words are 
necessary. 

Examine also the opening scene of Maeterlinck's The Blind. 
A group of sightless people have been deserted in a wood by 
their guide, and consequently are so bewildered and timor- 
ous that they hardly dare move. Yet all their trepidation, 

1 The Romancers. Translated by Mary Hendee. Doubleday & McClure Co., New York. 



38 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

doubt, and awe are clearly conveyed to us, with a very small 
amount of physical action, through skilful characterization, 
and words specially chosen and ordered to create and in- 
tensify emotion in us. 

An ancient Norland forest, with an eternal look, under a sky of deep 
stars. 

In the centre and in the deep of the night, a very old priest is sitting, 
wrapped in a great black cloak. The chest and the head, gently up- 
turned and deathly motionless, rest against the trunk of a giant hollow 
oak. The face is fearsome pale and of an immovable waxen lividness, 
in which the purple lips fall slightly apart. The dumb, fixed eyes no 
longer look out from the visible side of Eternity and seem to bleed with 
immemorial sorrows and with tears. The hair, of a solemn whiteness, 
falls in stringy locks, stiff and few, over a face more illuminated and 
more weary than all that surrounds it in the watchful stillness of that 
melancholy wood. The hands, pitifully thin, are clasped rigidly over 
the thighs. 

On the right, six old men, all blind, are sitting on stones, stumps, 
and dead leaves. 

On the left, separated from them by an uprooted tree and fragments 
of rock, six women, also blind, are sitting opposite the old men. Three 
among them pray and mourn without ceasing, in a muffled voice. 
Another is old in the extreme. The fifth, in an attitude of mute insan- 
ity, holds on her knees a little sleeping child. The sixth is strangely 
young and her whole body is drenched with her beautiful hair. They, 
as well as the old men, are all clad in the same ample and sombre gar- 
ments. Most of them are waiting, with their elbows on their knees and 
their faces in their hands; and all seem to have lost the habit of inef- 
fectual gesture and no longer turn their heads at the stifled and un- 
easy noises of the Island. Tall funereal trees, — yews, weeping-wil- 
lows, cypresses, — cover them with their faithful shadows. A cluster 
of long, sickly asphodels is in bloom, not far from the priest, in the 
night. It is unusually oppressive, despite the moonlight that here and 
there struggles to pierce for an instant the glooms of the foliage. 

First Blind Man. {Who was born blind.) He hasn't come back yet? 
Second Blind Man. {Who also was born blind.) You have awak- 
ened me. 

First Blind Man. I was sleeping, too. 

Third Blind Man. {Also born blind.) I was sleeping, too. 



THE ESSENTIALS OF DRAMA 39 

First Blind Man. He hasn't'come yet? 

Second Blind Man. I hear something coming. 

Third Blind Man. It is time to go back to the Asylum. 

First Blind Man. We ought to find out where we are. 

Secovxl Blind Man. It has grown cold since he left. 

First Blind Man. We ought to find out where we are! 

The Very Old Blind Man. Does any one know where we are? 

The Very Old Blind Woman. We were walking a very long while; 
we must be a long way from the Asylum. 

First Blind Man. Oh! the women are opposite us? 

The Very Old Blind Woman. We are sitting opposite you. 

First Blind Man. Wait, I am coming over where you are. {He 
rises and gropes in the dark.) W T here are you? — Speak! let me hear 
where you are! 

The Very Old Blind Woman. Here; we are sitting on stones. 

First Blind Man. {Advances and stumbles against the fallen tree 
and the rocks.) There is something between us. 

Second Blind Man. We had better keep our places. 

Third Blind Man. Where are you sitting? — Will you come over 
by us? 

The Very Old Blind Woman. We dare not rise! 

Third Blind Man. Why did he separate us? 

First Blind Man. I hear praying on the women's side. 

Second Blind Man. Yes; the three old women are praying. 

First Blind Man. This is no time for prayer! 

Second Blind Man. You will pray soon enough, in the dormitory! 
{The three old women continue their prayers.) 

Third Blind Man. I should like to know who it is I am sitting 
by. 

Second Blind Man. I think I am next to you. 

{They feel about tJiem.) 

Third Blind Man. W 7 e can't reach each other. 

First Blind Man. Nevertheless, we are not far apart. {He feels 
abmd him and strikes with his staff the fifth blind man, who utters a 
muffled groan.) The one who cannot hear is beside us. 

Second Blind Man. I don't hear anybody; we were six just now. 

First Blind Man. I am going to count. Let us question the 
women, too; we must know what to depend upon. I hear the three 
old women praying all the time; are they together? 

The Very Old Blind Woman. They are sitting beside me, on a 
rock. 



40 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

First Blind Man. I am sitting on dead leaves. 

Third Blind Man. And the beautiful blind girl, where is she? 

The Very Old Blind Woman. She is near them that pray. 

Second Blind Man. Where is the mad woman, and her child? 

The Young Blind Girl. He sleeps; do not awaken him! 

First Blind Man. Oh! How far away you are from us ! I thought 
you were opposite me! 

Third Blind Man. We know — nearly — all we need to know. 
Let us chat a little, while we wait for the priest to come back. 1 

Many an inexperienced dramatist fails to see the force of 
these words of Maeterlinck: "An old man, seated in his arm- 
chair, waiting patiently, with his lamp beside him — sub- 
mitting with bent head to the presence of his soul and his 
destiny — motionless as he is does yet live in reality a deeper, 
more human, and more universal life than the lover who 
strangles his mistress, the captain w T ho conquers in battle, or 
the husband who * avenges his honor. , " If an audience can 
be made to feel and understand the strong but contained 
emotion of this motionless figure, he is rich dramatic ma- 
terial. 

In the extracts from La Princesse Georges, Faustus, The 
Romancers, The Blind, in the soliloquy of Hamlet referred to, 
and the illustration quoted from Maeterlinck, it is not physi- 
cal outward expression but the vivid picture we get of a 
state of mind which stirs us. Surely all these cases prove that 
we must include mental as well as physical activity in any 
definition of the word dramatic. Provided a writer can con- 
vey to his audience the excited mental state of one or more 
of his characters, then this mental activity is thoroughly 
dramatic. That is, neither physical nor mental activity is 
in itself dramatic; all depends on whether it naturally arouses, 
or can be made by the author to arouse, emotion in an audi- 
ence. Just as we had to add to physical action w r hich arouses 
emotional response of itself, physical action which is made 

» The Blind. Translated by Richard Hovey. Copyright, 1894 and 1896, by Stone k 
Kimball, Chicago. 



THE ESSENTIALS OF DRAMA 41 

to arouse response because it develops the story or illustrates 
character, we must now add action which is not physical, but 
mental. 

There is even another chance for confusion. A figure sit- 
ting motionless not because he is thinking hard but because 
blank in mind may yet be dramatic. Utter inaction, both 
physical and mental, of a figure represented on the stage does 
not mean that it is necessarily un dramatic. If the drama- 
tist can make an audience feel the terrible tragedy of the 
contrast between what might have been and what is for this 
perfectly quiet unthinking figure, he rouses emotion in his 
hearers, and in so doing makes his material dramatic. Sup- 
pose, too, that the expressionless figure is an aged father or 
mother very dear to some one in the play who has strongly 
won the sympathy of the audience. The house takes fire. 
The flames draw nearer and nearer the unconscious figure. 
We are made to look at the situation through the eyes of the 
character — some child or relative — to whom the scene, 
were he present, would mean torture. Instantly the figure, 
because of the way in which it is represented, becomes dra- 
matic. Here again, however, the emotion of the audience 
could hardly be aroused except through characterization of 
the figure as it was or might have been, or of the child or 
relative who has won our sympathy. Again, too, character- 
ization so successful must depend a good deal on well-chosen 
words. 

This somewhat elaborate analysis should have made three 
points clear. First, we may arouse emotion in an audience 
by mere physical action; by physical action which also de- 
velops the story, or illustrates character, or does both; by 
mental rather than physical action, if clearly and accurately 
conveyed to the audience; and even by inaction, if charac- 
terization and dialogue by means of other figures are of high 
order. Secondly, as the various illustrations have been ex- 



42 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

amined, it must have become steadily more clear that while 
action is popularly held to be central in drama, emotion 
is really the essential. Because it is the easiest expression 
of emotion to understand, physical action, which without 
illuminating characterization and dialogue can express only 
a part of the world of emotion, has been too often ac- 
cepted as expressing all the emotion the stage can present. 
Thirdly, it should be clear that a statement one meets too 
frequently in books on the drama, that certain stories or 
characters, above all certain well-known books, are essen- 
tially undramatic material is at least dubious. The belief 
arises from the fact that the story, character, or idea, as 
usually presented, seems to demand much analysis and 
description, and almost to preclude illustrative action. In 
the past few years, however, the drama of mental states and 
the drama which has revealed emotional significance in seem- 
ing or real inaction, has been proving that " nothing human 
is foreign ' ' to the drama. A dramatist may see in the so-called 
undramatic material emotional values. If so, he will develop 
a technique which will create in his public a satisfaction 
equal to that which the so-called undramatic story, char- 
acter, or idea could give in story form. Of course he will 
treat it differently in many respects because he is writing not 
to be read but to be heard, and to affect the emotions, not 
of the individual, but of a large group taken as a group. He 
will prove that till careful analysis has shown in a given story, 
character, or idea, no possibility of arousing the same or 
dissimilar emotions in an audience, we cannot say that this 
or that is dramatic or undramatic, but only: "This material 
will require totally different presentation if it is to be dra- 
matic on the stage, and only a person of acumen, experi- 
ence with audiences, and inventive technique can present it 
effectively." 

The misapprehension just analyzed rests not only on the 



THE ESSENTIALS OF DRAMA 43 

misconception that action rather than emotion is the essen- 
tial in drama, but also largely on a careless use of the word 
dramatic. In popular use this word means material for 
drama, or creative of emotional response, or perfectly fitted for 
production under the conditions of the theatre. If we examine 
a little, in the light of this chapter, the nature and purpose 
of a play, we shall see that dramatic should stand only for 
the first two definitions, and that theatric must be used for 
the third. Avoiding the vague definition material for drama, 
use dramatic only as creative of emotional response and the 
confusion will disappear. 

f A play exists to create emotional response in an audience. 

( The response may be to the emotions of the people in the 
play or the emotions of tjie author as he watches these people. 
Where would satirical cQX^edy be if, instead of sharing the 
amusement, disdain, contempt or moral anger of the drama- 
tist caused by his figures, we responded exactly to their 
follies or evil moods? All ethical drama gets its force by 
creating in an audience the feelings toward the people in 
the play held by the author. Dumas fils, Ibsen, Brieux prove 
the truth of this statement. The writer of the satirical or 
the ethical play, obtruding his own personality as in the case 
of Ben Jonson, or with fine impersonality as in the case of 
Congreve or Moliere, makes his feelings ours. It is an ob- 
vious corollary of this statement that the emotions aroused 
in an audience need not be the same as those felt by the 

^people on the stage. They may be in the sharpest contrast 
Any one experienced in drama knows that the most intensely 
comic effects often come from people acting very seriously. 
In Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme (Act I, Scene 2), the morning 
reception of M. Jourdain affords an instance of this in his 
trying on of costumes, fencing, and lessons in dancing and 
language. Serious entirely for M. Jourdain they are as pre- 
sented by Moliere, exquisitely comic for us. tn^brigLthej 



44 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

d ramatic m ay rouse thp samp. all^, ™ A^m n^^ rfl| ^jnrT 

emotions in an onlooker. 

NojL-nee44fee e moti o n rou gc d- m-aa audience-by-actor or 
author be exactly the same in amount. The actress who aban- 
dons herself to the emotions of the part she is playing soon 
exhausts her nervous vitality. It would be the same if au- 
diences listening to the tragic were permitted to feel the 
scenes as keenly as the figures of the story. On the other 
hand, in some cases, if the comic figure on the stage felt his 
comicality as strongly as the audience which is speechless 
with laughter, he could not go on, and the scene would fail. 
Evidently, an audience may be made, as the dramatist wills, 
to feel more or less emotion than the characters of the play. 

That it is duplication of emotion to the same, a less, or a 
greater extent or the creation of contrasting emotion which 
underlies all drama, from melodrama, riotous farce and 
even burlesque to high-comedy and tragedy, must be firmly 
grasped if a would-be dramatist is to steer his way clearly 
through the many existing and confusing definitions of dra- 
matic. For instance, Brunetiere said, "Drama is the repre- 
sentation of the will of man in contrast to the mysterious 
powers of natural forces which limit and belittle us; it is one 
of us thrown living upon the stage, there to struggle against 
fatality, against social law, against one of his fellow mortals, 
against himself, if need be, against the emotions, the inter- 
ests, the prejudices, the folly, the malevolence of those 
around him." l That is, by this definition, conflict is central 
in drama. But we know that in recent drama particularly, 
the moral drifter has many a time aroused our sympathy. 
Surely inertness, supineness, stupidity, and even torpor may 
be made to excite emotion in an audience. Conflict covers 
a large part of drama but not all of it. 

Mr. William Archer, in his Play-Making, declares that 

1 Etudet Critiques, vol. vn, p. 207. 



THE ESSENTIALS OF DRAMA 45 

"a crisis'* is the central matter in drama, but one immedi- 
ately wishes to know what constitutes a crisis, and we have 
defined without defining. When he says elsewhere that that is 
dramatic which "by representation of imaginary personages 
is capable of interesting an average audience assembled in 
a theatre," ! he almost hits the truth. If we rephrase this 
definition: "T hat is dramatic which by representatio n of 
imaginary personages interests, through its emotions, an 
average audience assembled in a theatre," we have a defini- 
tion which will letter stand testing. 

Is all dramatic material, theatric? No, for theatric does 
not necessarily mean sensational, melodramatic, artificial. It 
should mean, and it will be so used in this book, adafj^Jpr 
the jmrjjosc vj the tlieatre. Certainly all dramatic material, 
that is, material which arouses or may be made to arouse 
emotion, is not fitted for use in the theatre when first it 
comes to the hand of the dramatist. Undeniably, the famous 
revivalists, Moody, J. B. Gough, Billy Sunday, have worked 
from emotions to emotions; that is, they have been dra- 
matic. Intentionally, feeling themselves justified by the ends 
obtained, they have, too, been theatric in the poor and popu- 
lar sense of the word, namely, exaggerated, melodramatic, 
sensational. Yet theatric in the best sense of the word these 
highly emotional speakers, who have swept audiences out of 
all self-control, have not been. They worked as speakers, 
not as playwrights. Though they sometimes acted admirably, 
what they presented was in no sense a play. To accomplish 
in play form what they accomplished as speakers, that is, 
to make the material properly theatric, would have required 
an entire reworking. From all this it follows that even ma- 
terial so emotional in its nature as to be genuinely dramatic 
may need careful reworking if it is to succeed as a play, that 
is, if it is to become properly theatric. Drama, then, is pres- 

» Plau-Making, p. 48. William Archer. Small, Maynard & Co., Boston. 



46 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

entation of an individual or group of individuals so as to 
V move an audience to responsive emotion of the kind desired 
by the dramatist and to the amount required. This response 
must be gained under the conditions which a dramatist 
finds or develops in a theatre; that is, dramatic material 
must be made theatric in the right sense of the word before 
it can become drama. 
Is To summarize : accurately conveyed emotion is the great 
I [fundamental in all good drama. It is conveyed by action, 
1 vcharacterization, and dialogue. It must be conveyed in a 
space of time, usually not exceeding two hours and a half, 
and under the existing physical conditions of the stage, or 
with such changes as the dramatist may bring about in them. 
It must be conveyed, not directly through the author, but 
indirectly through the actors. In order that the dramatic 
may become theatric in the right sense of the word, the 
dramatic must be made to meet all these conditions success- 
fully. These conditions affect action, characterization, and 
dialogue. A dramatist must study the ways in which the 
dramatic has been and may be made theatric: that is what 
technique means. 



CHAPTER III 
FROM SUBJECT TO PLOT. CLEARING THE WAY 

A plat may start from almost anything: a detached thought 
that flashes through the mind; a theory of conduct or of art 
which one firmly believes or wishes only to examine; a bit 
of dialogue overheard or imagined; a setting, real or imag- 
ined, which creates emotion in the observer; a perfectly 
detached scene, the antecedents and consequences of which 
are as yet unknown; a figure glimpsed in a crowd which for 
some reason arrests the attention of the dramatist, or a figure 
closely studied; a contrast or similarity between two people 
or conditions of life; a mere incident — noted in a newspaper 
or book, heard in idle talk, or observed; or a story, told only 
in the barest outlines or with the utmost detail. "How do 
the ideas underlying plays come into being? Under the most 
varying conditions. Most often you cannot tell exactly how. 
At the outset you waste much time hunting for a subject, 
then suddenly one day, when you are in your study or even 
in the street, you bring up with a start, for you have found 
something. The piece is in sight. At first there is only an 
impression, an image of the brain that wholly defies words. 
If you were to write out exactly what you feel at the moment 
— provided that were at all possible — it w r ould be exceed- 
ingly difficult to indicate its attractiveness. The situation is 
similar to that when you dream that you have discovered 
an idea of profound significance; on awaking you write 
it down; and on rereading perceive that it is commonplace or 
stale. Then you follow up the idea; it tries to escape, and 
when captured at last, still resists, ceaselessly changing form. 
You wish to write a comedy; the idea cries, 'Make a tragedy 



48 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

of me, or a story-play.' At last, after a struggle you master 
the idea." 1 

Back of La Haine of Sardou was the detached thought or 
query: "Under what circumstances will the profound char- 
ity of woman show itself in the most striking manner? In 
the preface to La Haine, Sardou has told how his plays re- 
vealed themselves to him. 'The problem is invariable. It 
appears as a kind of equation from which the unknown quan- 
tity must be found. The problem gives me no peace till I 
have found the answer.' " 2 Maeterlinck wrote several of his 
earlier plays, The Intruder, Princess Maleine, The Blind, to 
demonstrate the truth of two artistic theories of his: that 
what would seem to most theatre-goers of the time inaction 
might be made highly dramatic, and that partial or complete 
repetition of a phrase may have great emotional effect. 
Magda (Heimat) of Sudermann was written to illustrate the 
possible inherent tragedy of Magda's words: "Show them 
[people thoroughly sincere and honest but limited in experi- 
ence and outlook] that beyond their narrow virtues there 
may be something true and good." In Le Fits Naturel of 
Dumas the younger, the illegitimate son, till late in the play, 
believes his father to be his uncle. "The logical development 
would seem to be obvious : father and son falling into each 
other's arms. Dumas, on the contrary, arranged that the 
son should not take the family name, and that the play 
should end with the following dialogue : 

The Father. You will surely permit me, when we are alone to- 
gether, to call you my son. 
The Son. Yes, uncle. 

It seems that Montigny, Director of the Gymnase Theatre, 
was shocked by the frigidity of this denouement. He said to 

1 Aufeurs Dramatiques, Pailleron. A. Binet and J. Passey. L'AnnSe Psychologique, 1894, 
pp. 98-99. 

* Sardou and the Sardou Plays, p. 127. Jerome A. Hart. J. B. Lippincott Co., Philadelphia. 



FROM SUBJECT TO PLOT 49 

Dumas, 'Make thorn embrace each other; the play, in that 
. will have at least thirty additional performances. ' Du- 
mas answered, 'I can't suppress the last word. It is for that 
I wrote the piece/" 1 One suspects that Lord Dunsany feels 
the same about the last words of his King Argimenes. The 
whole play apparently illustrates the almost irresistible ef- 
fect of habit and environment. At the opening of the play, 
Kin^ Argimenes is the hungry, overworked slave of the cap- 
tors who deprived him of his kingship. He talks eagerly with 
his fellow slaves of the King's sick dog, who will make a rich 
feast for them if he dies. At the end, Argimenes, completely 
successful in his revolt, is lord of all he surveys. Surprised by 
the news of the incoming messenger, he suddenly reverts to 
a powerful desire of his slavehood, speaking instinctively 
as did Lefils of Dumas. 

Enter running, a Man of the household of King Darniak. He starts 
and stares aghast on seeing King Argimenes 

King Argimenes. Who are you? 
Man, I am the servant of the King's dog. 
King Argimenes. Why do you come here? 
Man. The King's dog is dead. 

King Argimenes and His Men. (Savagely and hungrily.) Bones! 
King Argimenes. (Remembering suddenly what has happened and 
where he is.) Let him be buried with the late King. 
Zarb. (In a voice of protest.) Majesty! 

Curtain* 

John G. Whittier's poem, Barbara Frietchie, provided the 
picture or incident which started Clyde Fitch on his play 
of the same name. In Cyrano de Bergerac ; in the numerous 
adaptations of Vanity Fair usually known as Becky Sharp ; 
in Peg 0' My Hearty Rip Van Winkle, and Louis XI, it is 
characterization of a central figure which was probably the 

1 Auleurt Dramatiquet. Dumas fill, p. 77. 

» Five Piays, p. 86. Lord Dunsany. Mitchell Kennerley, New York. 



5 o DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

point of departure for the play. Whether the source was an 
observed or an imagined figure, a character from history or 
fiction, the problem of the dramatist was like that of Sardou 
in Rabagas, — to find the story which will best illustrate the 
facets of character of the leading figure. Sometimes, as in 
Nos Bons Villageoisy by the same author, the point of de- 
parture is a group of country people whose manners and 
customs must be portrayed, — in this case to illustrate the 
reception these rapacious peasants give pleasure-seeking Pa- 
risians, whom they detest and seek to turn to monetary ad- 
vantage. 1 Mr. William Archer points out that Strife "arose 
in Mr. Galsworthy's mind from his actually having seen in 
conflict the two men who were the prototypes of Anthony 
and Roberts, and thus noted the waste and inefficacy arising 
from the clash of strong characters unaccompanied by bal- 
ance. It was accident that led him to place the two men in an 
environment of capital and labour. In reality, both of them 
were, if not capitalists, at any rate, on the side of capital." 2 
In Theodora, Sardou tried to reconstitute an historical epoch 
which interested him. 3 Still another source is this: "The 
point of departure of the plays of M. de Curel is psychologi- 
cal. What allures him is a curious situation which raises 
some problem. He asks himself, * What, under such circum- 
stances, can have been going on in our minds? ' This was the 
case with VEnvers oVune Sainte. M. de Curel was thinking 
of this : A woman was arrested for murder; thanks to protec- 
tion in high places, the action of the courts was held up. The 
woman was represented to be insane and shut up in an asy- 
lum. Years pass by; the woman succeeds in escaping, and 
returning home secretly , suddenly opens the door of the room 
where her children are playing. It is in this picture-like form 
that the idea of the piece came to him, a picture so detailed 

1 Auteurs Drama!ique8, Sardou. U Annie Psychologique, 1894, p. 66. 

« Play-Making, pp. 18-19, note. William Archer. Small, Maynard &Co., Boston. 

9 Auteurs Dramatiques, Sardou, p. 66. 



FROM SUBJECT TO PLOT 51 

and concrete that in imagination he saw the astonishment 
of the children, the terror of the nurse calling for aid, and 
the husband hurrying to prevent his wife from stepping into 
the room." 1 The origin of A DoWs House, of Ibsen, we have 
in those, his first, "Notes for the Modern Tragedy": 

Rome, 19.10, 78. 

There are two kinds of spiritual law, two kinds of conscience, 
one in man, and another, altogether different, in woman. They do 
not understand each other; but in practical life the woman is judged 
by man's law, as though she were not a woman but a man. 

The wife in the play ends by having no idea of what is right or 
wrong; natural feeling on the one hand and belief in authority 
on the other have altogether bewildered her. 

A woman cannot be herself in the society of the present day, 
which is an exclusively masculine society, with laws framed by 
nun and with a judicial system that judges feminine conduct from 
a masculine point of view. 

She has committed forgery and she is proud of it; for she did 
it out of love for her husband, to save his life. But this husband 
with his commonplace principles of honour is on the side of the law 
and regards the question with masculine eyes. 

Spiritual conflicts. Oppressed and bewildered by the belief in 
authority, she loses faith in her moral right and ability to bring 
up her children. Bitterness. A mother in modern society, like cer- 
tain insects who go away and die when she has done her duty in the 
propagation of the race. Love of life, of husband and children and 
family. Here and there a womanly shaking off of her thoughts. 
Sudden return of anxiety and terror. She must bear it all alone. 
The catastrophe approaches, inexorably, inevitably. Despair, con- 
flict, and destruction 

(Krogstad has acted dishonourably and thereby become well-to- 
do; now his prosperity does not help him, he cannot recover his 
honour.) 2 

It is a truism, first, that Shakespeare wrote story plays, 
and secondly that he did not endeavor to imagine a new 
story. Instead, he made over plays grown out of date in his 

* AuUurs Dramatique*, M. de Curel, p. 121. 

* From Ibsen's Workshop. Works, vol. x, pp. 91-92. Chas. Scribner's Sons, New York. 



52 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

time, or adapted to the stage what today we should call 
novelettes which came to him in the original or translation 
from Italy, Spain, or France. Never did he find a story which 
seemed to him fully shaped and ready for the stage. 1 The 
tales may be verbose and redundant; they may be mere bare 
outlines of the action, little if at all characterized, with un- 
real dialogue; or they may provide Shakespeare with only a 
part of the story he uses, the rest coming from other tales 
or from his own imagination. Widely different as they are, 
however, one and all they were points of departure for 
Shakespeare's plays. 

No matter which one of the numerous starting points 
noted may be that of the dramatist, he must end in story 
even if he does not begin with it. Suppose that he starts with 
a character. He cannot merely talk about the figure. This 
might produce a kind of history; it cannot produce drama. 
Inevitably, he will try to illustrate, by means of action, 
some one dominant characteristic, or group of characteristics, 
or to the full, the many-sided nature of the man. Very nearly 
the same thing may be said of any attempt to dramatize 
an historical epoch. Its chief characteristic or characteristics 
must be illustrated in action. Some story is inevitable. Sup- 
pose, for the moment, that as in Morose of Ben Jonson's 
Silent Woman? the dramatist is stressing one characteristic, 
in this instance morbid sensitiveness to noise of any kind. 
It is well known that Jonson cared more for character and 
less for story than most dramatists of his day. Yet ever in 
this play we find the story of the tricking of Morose by his 
nephew, Dauphine, resulting in the marriage of Morose to 
Dauphine's page. The reason why the three parts of Henry 
VI of Shakespeare are little read and very rarely acted is not 
merely that they are somewhat crude early work, but that 

' l Consult the pages of W. C. Hazlitt's Shakespeare Library, a source book of his plays 
for proof of this. 
* Belles-Lettres Series. F. E. Schelling, ed. D. C. Heath & Co., Boston and New York. 



FROM SUBJECT TO PLOT 53 

crowding incident of all kinds lacks the massing needed to 
give it clearness of total effect to round it out into a well-told 
story. Illustrative incidents, unrelated except that histori- 
cally tlicy happen to the same person, and that historically 
they arc given in proper sequence, are likely to be confusing. 
We need the Baedeker of a biographer or an historian to 
emphasize the incidents so that the meaning they have for 
him may be clear to us. The first part of Marlowe's Tam- 
burlaine, 1 when quickly read, seems but a succession of con- 
quests, not greatly unlike, leading to his control of the world 
of his day. He who sees no deeper into the play than this 
praises certain scenes or passages, but finds the whole rep- 
etitious and confusing. Closer examination shows, however, 
that behind these many incidents of war and slaughter is an 
interest of Marlowe's own creation which keeps us waiting 
for, anticipating the final scene — the desire of Zenocrate, 
at first captive of Tamburlaine, and later his devoted wife, 
to reconcile her father, the Soldan, and her husband. The 
satisfaction of her desire makes the spectacular ending of 
Part I. This thread of interest gives a certain unity to the 
material presented, creates a slight story in the mass of in- 
cident, — that is, something with a beginning, a middle, and 
an end. What gives unity to the Second Part of Tambur- 
laine is the idea that, even as Tamburlaine declares himself 
all-conquering, he faces unseen forces against which he can- 
not stand — the physical cowardice of his son, so incompre- 
hensible to him that he kills the boy; the illness and death 
of his beloved Zenocrate, though he spares nothing to save 
her; his own growing physical weakness, his breakdown and 
death even as the generals he has never called on in vain 
before prove unable to aid him. Again we find an element of 
story to unify the material. 

A moment's thought will show that if, beginning with 

1 Mermaid Scries or Everyman's Library. 



j-4 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

character we must ultimately reach some story, however 
slight, this is just as true of a play which begins with an 
idea, a bit of dialogue, a detached scene, or a mere setting. 
The setting must be the background of some incident. This, 
in turn, must be part of a story or we shall have the episodic 
form already found undesirable. Similarly, a detached scene 
must become part of a series of scenes. Get rid of the effect 
of episodic scenes, that is, give them unity, and lo, we have 
story of some sort. The bit of dialogue must become part of 
a larger dialogue belonging to characters of the play; and 
characterization, as we have seen, results in some story. 
The artistic or moral idea of the dramatist can be made clear 
only by human figures, the pawns with which he makes 
his emotional moves. At once we are on the way to story. 
The Red Robe 1 of Brieux aims to illustrate the idea that in 
France the administration of justice has been confused by 
personal ambition and personal intrigue. Is it without story? 
Surely we have the story of Mouzon, — his hopes, his con- 
sequent intrigues for advancement, and his resulting death. 
Here is a group of incidents developing something from a be- 
ginning to an end, that is, providing story. The play con- 
tains, too, the story of Yanetta and Etchepare. May we not 
say that the Vagret family provides a third story? 

A play, then, may begin in almost anything seen or thought. 
Speaking broadly, there is no reason why one source is bet- 
ter than another. The important point is that something 
seen or thought should so stir the emotions of the drama- 
tist that the desire to convey his own emotion or the emo- 
tions of characters who become connected with what he has 
seen or thought, forces him to write till he has worked out 
his purpose. Undoubtedly, however, he who begins with a 
story is nearer his goal than he who begins with an idea or 

1 Published in translation by Brentano; also in Chief Contemporary Dramatists. Thomas 
H. Dickinson. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston. 



FROM SUBJECT TO PLOT 55 

a character. Disconnected episodes, then, may possibly make 
a vaudeville sketch or the libretto of a lower order of musical 
comedy. Unless unified in story, even though it be very slight, 
tlu.v cannot make a play. 

This point needs emphasis for two reasons : because lately 
there has been some attempt to maintain that a newer type 
of play has no story, and because many a beginnner in 
dramatic writing seems to agree with Bayes in The Rehearsal. 
" What the devil's a plot except to stuff in fine things?" In 
good play-writing it is not a question of bringing together as 
many incidents or as many illustrations of character as you 
can crowd together in a given number of acts, but of select- 
ing the illustrative incidents, which, when properly devel- 
oped will produce in an audience the largest amount of the 
emotional response desired. Later this error will be consid- 
ered in detail. 

Nor will the recent attempt to maintain that there is a 
new type of play with " absolutely no story in it " stand close 
analysis. The story may be very slight, but story is present 
in all such plays. Take two cases. Mr. William Archer, in 
his excellent book on Play-Making, 1 sums up Miss Elizabeth 
Baker's Chains 2 as follows: "A city clerk, oppressed by the 
deadly monotony of his life, thinks of going to Australia — 
and doesn't go : that is the sum and substance of the action. 
Also, by way of underplot, a shopgirl, oppressed by the 
deadly monotony and narrowness of her life, thinks of es- 
caping from it by marrying a middle-aged widower — and 
doesn't do it." He then declares that the play has "abso- 
lutely no story." Does any reader believe that this play 
could have succeeded, as it has, if the audience had been 
left in any doubt as to why the city clerk and the shopgirl 
did not do what they had planned? Yet surely, if this play 
makes clear, as it does, why these two people changed their 

1 Note, p. 49. » J. W. Luce & Co., Boston; Sidgwick & Jackson, Ltd., London. 



56 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

minds, it must have story, for it shows us people thinking 
of escaping from conditions they find irksome, and explains 
why they give up the idea. If that isn't story, what is it? 

The Weavers of Hauptmann, 1 giving us somewhat loosely 
connected pictures of social conditions among the weavers 
of Germany in the forties of the nineteenth century, is said 
to be another specimen of these plays without story. Now 
such plays as The Weavers have one of two results : they rouse 
us to thought on the social conditions represented, or they 
do not. To succeed they must rouse us; but if our stirred 
feelings are to lead anywhere, we must be not only stirred 
but clear as to the meaning of the play. There have been 
many who have thought that The Weavers, though it stirs 
us to sympathy, leaves us nowhere because not clear. Be 
this as it may, even The Weavers has some story, for it tells 
us of the rise and development of a revolt of the weavers 
against their employers. 

Confusion as to " story " results from two causes. First, 
story in drama is often taken to imply only complicated 
story. To say that every play must have complicated story 
is absurd. To say that every play must have some story, 
though it may be very slight, is undeniable. Secondly, story 
is frequently used to mean plot, and plot of the older type, 
namely a play of skilfully arranged suspense and climax in 
a story of complicated and extreme emotion. It is the second 
cause which underlies Mr. Archer's curious statement about 
Chains. He says that the play has no "emotional tendon 
worth speaking of," and assumes that where there is no 
emotional tension there cannot be story. Tension in the sense 
of suspense the play has little, but Mr. Archer states that it 
held "an audience absorbed through four acts" and stirred 
"them to real enthusiasm." In these words he grants the 
emotional response of the audience. Miss Baker substitutes 

1 Dramatic Works, vol. i. Ed. Ludwig Lewisohn. B. Huebsch., New York. 



FROM SUBJECT TO PLOT 57 

sympathy for the characters and deft dealing with ironic 
values (see the ends of Act II and Act III) for complicated 
plot and dependence on suspense. One kind of play, how- 
ever, no more precludes story than another. 

What, then, is the difference between story and plot? In 
treating drama, what should be meant by story is what a 
play boils down to when you try to tell a friend as briefly 
as possible what it is about — what Mr. Knobloch calls the 
vital active part, the "verb" of the play. Here is the story 
of the play, Barbara Frietchie, as it re-shaped itself in Clyde 
Fitch's mind from Whittier's poem: 1 "A Northern man 

1 For purposes of useful comparison the lines of Whittier which suggested the subject to 
Mr. Fitch are appended. 

On that pleasant morn of the early fall 
When Lee marched over the mountain wall; 

Over the mountains winding down. 
Horse and foot, into Frederick town. 

Forty flags with their silver stars, 
Forty flags with their crimson bars, 

Flapped in the moming wind: the sun 
Of noon looked down and saw not one. 

Up rose old Barbara Frietchie then, 
Bowed with her fourscore years and ten; 

Bravest of all in Frederick town, 

She took up the flag the men hauled down 

In her attic window the staff she set. 
To show that one heart was loyal yet. 

Up the street came the rebel tread, 
Stonewall Jackson riding ahead. 

Under his slouched hat left and right 
He glanced; the old flag met his sight. . 

"Halt!" — the dust-brown ranks stood fast. 
"Fire!" — out blazed the rifle-blast. 

It shivered the window, pane and sash; 
It rent the banner with seam and gash. 

Quick, as it fell from the broken staff 
Dame Barbara snatched the silken scarf. 



58 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

loves a Southern girl. She defies her father and runs away to 
marry him. By a sudden battle the ceremony is prevented. 
The minister's house is seized by the rebels, and soldiers 
stationed there. Barbara, who has remained, seeing a Con- 
federate sharpshooter about to fire on her lover passing with 
his regiment, drops on her knees, slowly levels a gun she 
has seized, and shoots the Southerner. Her lover is wounded 
and she struggles to protect him from her father, brother, 
and rebel suitor, and from every little noise which might cost 
his life. He dies, and she, now wholly wedded to the North- 
ern cause, waves the flag, as does the old woman in Whittier's 
poem, in defiance of the Southern army, and is shot by her 
crazy rebel lover." 1 Note that this summary, though it 
makes the story clear, in no way presents the scenes of the 
play as to order, suspense, or climax. This is the story, not 
the plot of Barbara Frietchie. Plot, dramatically speaking, 
is the story so moulded by the dramatist as to gain for him 
in the theatre the emotional response he desires. In order 
to create and maintain interest, he gives his story, as seems 
to him wise, simple or complex structure; and discerning 
elements in it of suspense, surprise, and climax, he reveals 

She leaned far out on the window-sill, 
And shook it forth with a royal will. 

"Shoot, if you must, this old gray head, 
But spare your country's flag," she said. 

A shade of sadness, a blush of shame, 
Over the face of the leader came; 

The nobler nature within him stirred 
To life at that woman's deed and word: 

"Who touches a hair of yon gray head 
Dies like a dog! March on!" he said. 

All day long through Frederick street 
Sounded the tread of marching feet: 

All day long that free flag tost 
Over the heads of the rebel host. 

* The Stage in America, p. 90. Norman Hapgood. The Macmillan Co., New York. 



FROM SUBJECT TO PLOT 59 

them to just the extent necessary for his purposes. Plot is 
story proportioned and emphasized so as to accomplish, un- 
der the conditions of the theatre, the purposes of the drama- 
tist. Compare the plot of Barbara Frietchie with its story. 

Act I. The Frietchies' front stoop facing on a street in 
the town of Frederick, which is in the hands of the hated 
Yankees. By the sentimental talk of the Southern girls sit- 
ting on the steps we learn that Barbara Frietchie is carrying 
on a flirtation with Captain Trumbull, a Union officer, 
under the noses of her outraged family, friends, and lover, 
Jack Xegly. After a short scene, Barbara sends him off re- 
buffed and incensed. She is then left alone in the dusk. Her 
brother, Arthur Frietchie, steals round the corner of the 
house, wounded. Barbara takes him in and they are not yet 
out of earshot when Captain Trumbull appears to call on 
Barbara much to the wrath of the Frietchies' next-door 
neighbor, Colonel Negly. The Yankee lover summons Bar- 
bara, and dismisses a Union searching party, swearing on 
his honor that there are no rebels in the Frietchie home. 
Her gratitude for this leads them into a love scene, turbu- 
lent from the clash of sectional sympathies, terminating in 
her promise to become his wife. No sooner has the be- 
trothal been spoken than Barbara's father, incensed to it 
by old Colonel Negly, forbids the Union man his house and 
his daughter. To complete their separation, an Orderly 
rushes on, announcing the departure of Captain Trumbull's 
Company for Hagerstown in the early morning. Leaning 
over the second-floor balcony, Barbara tells her lover that 
she will be at the minister's house at Hagerstown the next 
day at noon. 

Act II. The Lutheran minister's house at Hagerstown. 
Barbara and her friend, Sue Royce, appear all aflutter and, 
with the minister's wife, Mrs. Hunter, await the arrival of 
the bridegroom and the divine. News comes that the Con- 



60 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

federates are swooping into the town, and Captain Trum- 
bull bursts into the room. An impassioned love scene follows 
in which we learn that Barbara's sympathies are changing, 
so much so that she presents her lover with an old Union flag 
to wear next his heart. Orders for the soldier to join his 
Company part Barbara and Trumbull. The Confederates 
are heard coming down the street as he leaves the house. 
Barbara's brother Arthur breaks into the house and sta- 
tions two sharpshooters, angered deserters from Captain 
Trumbull's Company, at the windows, Barbara protesting. 
Arthur goes about his business and she learns that Gelwex, 
the deserter with the greatest grudge against her lover, is 
to have the honor of picking him off as he comes down the 
street. She gets a gun for herself. Captain Trumbull's ex- 
cited voice is heard outside the window. The deserter takes 
careful aim, puts his finger to the trigger, and is shot from 
behind by Barbara. 

Act III. Two days later. The front hallway of the 
Frietchie house. The Confederates have re-taken the town. 
Barbara is in despair, her father exultant, not speaking to 
her until she tells him that she is not married to the Union 
officer. She pleads for news of her beloved, but her father 
gives her little satisfaction. He has just gone upstairs when 
Arthur comes in, supporting a wounded and fever-stricken 
man whom he has shot. It is Captain Trumbull. Barbara 
takes him to her room, and when her father, hearing who 
the wounded man is, orders him thrown into the street, she 
pleads with all her strength to be allowed to keep him with 
her. The old man yields, and when the Confederate search- 
ing party invades the house, gives his word for its loyalty. 
Barbara has placed herself at the foot of the stairs, deter- 
mined to hold the fort against the enemies of her lover. The 
doctor has insisted on absolute quiet for him; noise may kill 
him. When the searching party has been turned back, she 



FROM SUBJECT TO PLOT 61 

summons new strength to quiet crazy Jack r Negly, who has 
icm 1 howling his victory. He insists that she shall marry 
him, and tries, pistol in hand, to force his way past Barbara 
to the bedside of his enemy in love and war. By sheer force 
of will she conquers Negly and rushes past him to the door 
of the room where her lover lies. 

Act IV. Scene 1. The next morning. Barbara's room. 
Captain Trumbull lies peacefully on the bed. Mammy Lu, 
the colored nurse, is dozing as Barbara enters. They listen 
for the invalid's breathing, hear none, and find that he is 
dead. Half crazed, Barbara snatches the bloody flag from 
his bosom. The scene changes. 

Scene 2. The balconied stoop in front of the house. The 
Confederate soldiers, headed by Stonewall Jackson, are 
heralded by a large crowd ! Barbara, hanging the Union flag 
out on the balcony, is discovered by the mob, who begin 
to stone her, urging somebody to shoot. The lines of Whit- 
tier's poem, to fit the circumstances which Clyde Fitch has 
made, now become: 

Shoot! You've taken a life already dearer to me than my own. 
Shoot, and I'll thank you! but spare your flag! l 

General Jackson orders that no shot be fired on penalty of 
death. Her crazed lover, Negly, shoots her down from the 
street, and his own father orders the execution of the penalty. 

"In many cases, no doubt, it is the plain and literal fact 
that the impulse to write some play — any play — exists, 
so to speak, in the abstract, unassociated with any particu- 
lar subject, and that the would-be playwright proceeds, as 
he thinks, to set his imagination to work and invent a story. 
But this frame of mind is to be regarded with suspicion. 
Few plays of much value, one may guess, have resulted from 
such an abstract impulse. Invention in these cases is apt to 

» Barbara Frietchie, p. 126. Clyde Fitch. Life Publishing Co., New York. 



62 DRAMATIC TECHNIOUE 

be nothing but recollection in disguise, the shaking of a ka- 
leidoscope formed of fragmentary reminiscences. I remem- 
ber once in some momentary access of ambition, trying to 
invent a play. I occupied several hours of a long country 
walk, in, as I believed, creating out of nothing at all a dra- 
matic story. When at last I had modelled it into some sort 
of coherency, I stepped back from it in my mind as it were, 
and contemplated it as a whole. No sooner had I done so 
than it began to seem vaguely familiar. * Where have I seen 
this story before?' I asked myself; and it was only after 
cudgelling my brains for several minutes that I found I had 
re-invented Ibsen's Hedda Gabler. Thus, when we think we 
are choosing a plot out of the void, we are very apt to be, in 
fact, ransacking the storehouse of memory." 1 

There is, of course, another group of would-be playwrights 
who care nothing for freshness of subject but are perfectly 
content to imitate the latest success, hoping thereby to win 
immediate notoriety, or what interests them even more, 
immediate money return. Undoubtedly a man may take a 
subject just presented in a successful play and so re-shape it 
by the force of his own personality as to make it an original 
work of power. Ordinarily, however, these imitators should 
remember the old adage about the crock which goes so often 
to the well that at last it comes back broken. He who merely 
imitates may have some temporary vogue, and dramatic 
technique may help him to win it, but whatever is very pop- 
ular soon gives way to something else, for the fundamental 
law of art, as of life, is change. He who is content merely 
to imitate must be content with impermanency. It is the 
creator and perfecter whom we most remember. Even the 
creator or the perfecter we remember. The mere imitators 
have their brief day and pass. Today we still read the work 
of the initiators, Lyly, Greene, Kyd. With pleasure we turn 

* Play-Making, pp. 24-25. William Archer. Small, Maynard & Co., Boston. 



FROM SUBJECT TO PLOT 63 

the pages of Marlowe, Jonson, and Fletcher, not to mention 
Shakespeare. The dozens of mere imitators who had their 
little day are known only as names. 

The ambitious but inexperienced writer of plays worries 
himself much in hunting a novel subject, — and in vain. Far 
afield he goes, seeking the sensational, the bizarre, the occult, 
for new emotions and situations, failing to recognize that 
the emotional life of yesterday, today, and tomorrow can dif- 
fer little fundamentally. Civilization refines or deteriorates, 
kingdoms rise and fall, languages develop and pass, but love 
of man and woman, of friend for friend, ambition, jealousy, 
envy, selfishness, — these emotions abide. A book has been 
published to show that there are but thirty-six possible dra- 
matic situations. It is based on the dictum of the Italian 
dramatist, Gozzi, that "there could be only thirty-six tragic 
situations. Schiller gave himself much trouble to find more, 
but was unable to find as many." l The very chapter head- 
ings of the book mentioned prove that the number of pos- 
sible dramatic situations is a mere matter of subdivision: 
"Vengeance Pursuing Crime"; "Madness"; "Fatal Impru- 
dence " ; " Loss of Property " ; "Ambition." Obviously, there 
are many different kinds of vengeance, as the person pur- 
suing the crime is a hired detective, a wronged person, an 
officer of state, etc. Moreover, differing conditions surround- 
ing the crime, as well as the character of the avenger, would 
make the vengeance sought different. The same may be 
said of the other chapter-headings. It may be possible to 
a^ree on the smallest number of dramatic situations possi- 
ble, but disagreement surely lies beyond that, for, accord- 
ing to our natures, we shall wish to subdivide and increase 
the number. Just what that smallest number is, here is un- 
important. The important fact is: keen thinkers about the 
drama agree that the stuff from which it is made may be put 

1 Let 36 Situation Dramatiquet. Georges Polti. Edition du Mercure de France, 1895, p. 1. 



64 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

into a small number of categories. This rests on the belief 
that the emotions we feel today are the same old emotions, 
though we may feel them in greater or less degree because 
of differences in climate, civilization or ideals. Modern in- 
vention, of course, affects our emotional life. It is now a 
commonplace that invention has quite changed the heroism 
of warfare from what it was even a generation ago. It is still 
heroism, but under conditions so different that it needs 
wholly different treatment dramatically. In Restoration 
Comedy the rake was the hero. The audience, viewing life 
through his eyes saw the victims of his selfishness as fools 
or as people who, in any combat of wits with the hero, de- 
servedly came off defeated. Interest in one's fellow man, a 
more just sense of life had developed in the early years of 
the eighteenth century. This wholly changed the emphasis, 
and gave birth to the Sentimental Comedy. The characters, 
even the story, of this newer comedy are almost identical 
with the Restoration Comedy, but the material is so treated 
that our sympathies go to the unfortunate wife of The Care- 
less Husband, not to the man himself, as they would have 
a generation before. In The Provoked Husband l it is the 
point of view of that husband as to Lady Townley, though 
she is presented in all her charm and gaiety, with which 
we are left. 

The sentimentality of the present day is not the sentimen- 
tality of 1850 to 1870. The higher education of women, the 
growth of suffrage, the prevailing wide discussion of sci m- 
tific matters have not taken sentimentality from us, but have 
changed its look. Because of changes in costume and custom 
it even appears more different than it really is. A perfect 
illustration of the point is Milestones, 2 of Mr. Edward Knob- 
loch. Three generations live before our eyes the same story, 

1 For texts of The Careless Husband and The Provoked Husband, both plays by Colley 
Cibber, see Works, vols, n and iv, 1777. 
* Methuen & Co., Ltd., London. 



FROM SUBJECT TO PLOT 65 

but how differently because of changed costumes, ideas, and 
immediate surroundings. In French drama, the wet-nurse 
is no new figure as one employee in a household where we 
arc watching the comedy or the tragedy of the employers. 
Brieux was the first, however, to study the emotions of such 
a household through the nurse, making her feelings of prime 
consequence. Hence, Les Remplagantes. 1 The whole situa- 
tion is summed up by William Sharp (Fiona Macleod) in his 
Introduction to The House of Usna : 

The tradition of accursed families is not the fantasy of one drama- 
tist, or of one country or of one time. . . . 

Whether the poet turn to the tragedy of the Theban dynasty, or 
to the tragedy of the Achaian dynasty, or to the tragedy of Lear, 
or to the Celtic tragedy of the House of Fionn, or to the other and 
less familiar Gaelic tragedy of the House of Usna — whether one 
turn to these or to the doom of the House of Malatesta, or to the 
doom of the House of Macbeth, or to the doom of the House of 
Ravenswood, one turns in vain if he be blind and deaf to the same 
elemental forces as they move in their eternal ichor through the 
blood that has today's warmth in it, that are the same powers 
though they be known of the obscure and the silent, and are com- 
mitted like wandering flame to the torch of a ballad as well as 
to the starry march of the compelling words of genius; are of the 
same dominion, though that be in the shaken hearts of islesfolk and 
mountaineers, and not with kings in Mykenai, or by the thrones 
of Tamburlaine and Aurungzebe, or with great lords and broken 
nobles and thanes. . . . 

... I know one who can evoke modern dramatic scenes by the 
mere iterance of the great musical names of the imagination. 
Menelaos, Helen, Klytemaistra, Andromache, Kassandra, Orestes, 
Blind Oidipus, Elektra, Kreusa, and the like. This is not because 
these names are in themselves esoteric symbols. My friend has not 
seen any representation of the Agamemnon or the Choephoroi, of 
Aias or Oidipus at Kolonos, of Elektra or Ion, or indeed of any 
Greek play. But he knows the story of every name mentioned in 
each of the dramas of the three kings of Greek Tragedy. . . . And 
here, he says, is his delight. "For I do not live only in the past 

* Not translated. Edition in French, P. V. Stock, Paris. 



66 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

but in the present, in these dramas of the mind. The names stand 
for the elemental passions, and I can come to them through my own 
gates of today a£ well as through the ancient portals of Aischylos 
or Sophocles or Euripides." . . . 

It is no doubt in this attitude that Racine, so French in the accent 
of his classical genius, looked at the old drama which was his inspira- 
tion: that Mr. Swinburne and Mr. Bridges, so English in the ac- 
cent of their genius, have looked at it; that Echegaray in Spain, 
looked at it before he produced his troubled modern Elektra which 
is so remote in shapen thought and coloured semblance from the 
colour and idea of its prototype; that Gabriele D'Annunzio looked 
at it before he became obsessed with the old terrible idea of the 
tangled feet of Destiny, so that a tuft of grass might withhold or a 
breath from stirred dust empoison, and wrote that most perturbing 
of all modern dramas, La Citta Morta. 1 

The drama must, then, go on treating over and over emo- 
tions the same in kind. Real novelty comes in presenting 
them as they affect men and women who are in ideas, hab- 
its, costume, speech, and environment distinctly of their 
time. Their expression of the old elemental emotions 
brings genuine novelty. Usually it is not through an in- 
cident or an episode obviously dramatic, but through the 
characters involved that one understands and presents 
what is novel in the dramatic. Feeling this strongly, Mr. 
Galsworthy asserts "Character is plot." 2 

So long as characters, ideas, and treatment seem to the 
public fresh, they even have a weakness for a story they have 
heard before. Recall the drama of iEschylus, Sophocles, and 
Euripides in which the dramatists shared w T ith their audi- 
ences a knowledge of the stories of the gods which was theirs 
by education and from repeated treatment by the dramatists 
of the day. That public asked, not new stories, but newness 
of effect because old stories which were almost fixed subjects 

1 Foreword to The House of Uma. Fiona Macleod. Published by Thomas B. Mosher, 
Portland, Maine, 1903. 

2 Some Platitildes Concerning Drama. John Galsworthy. Atlantic Monthly, December, 
1909. 



FROM SUBJECT TO PLOT 67 

for their dramatists were given individuality of treatment. In 
a modified sense this was true of the Elizabethan public. 
Romeo and Juliet, Lear, probably Titus Andronicus, and 
possibly Julius Caesar Londoners had known as plays just 
passing from popularity when Shakespeare made them over. 
litre again, it was freshness of treatment through better 
characterization, richer poetry, and finer technique, not 
creative story, which won the public to Shakespeare. Nor 
is this attitude a thing of the past. Think of the delight with 
which the public today watches the rejuggling of old ele- 
ments of plot in the rapid succession of popular musical 
comedies, grateful for whatever element of freshness they 
may find in the total product. Was it the story, or the 
characterization and setting, indeed all that went with 
the treatment of the story, which in Peg o' My Heart and 
Bunty Pulls the Strings won these plays popularity? Seek 
for novelty, then, not by trying to invent some new story, 
but in an idea, the setting of the play, the technical treat- 
ment given it, above all the characters. The last, when 
studied, are likely so to reshape the story which first pre- 
sents itself to the imagination as to make it really novel. 
Does the freshness of the story of the Duke, Olivia, and 
Viola in Twelfth Night rest on the story as Shakespeare 
found it in Barnabe Riche's book, 1 or on the characteriza- 
tion Shakespeare gave these suggested figures and the ef- 
fect of their developed characters on the story as he found 
it? Surely the latter. 

Another common fallacy of young dramatists is that what 
has happened is better dramatic material than what is 
imagined. Among the trite maxims a dramatist should 
remember, however, is: "Truth is often stranger than fic- 
tion." The test for a would-be writer of plays, choosing 
among several starting points, should be, not, " Is this true? " 

» Shakespeare Library, vol i, pp. 387-412. Ed. W. C. Hazlitt. 



68 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

but "Will my audience believe it true on sight or because of 
the treatment I can give it?" "Aristotle long ago decided 
how far the tragic poet need regard historical accuracy. He 
does not make use of an event because it really happened, 
but because it happened so convincingly that for his present 
purpose he cannot invent conditions more convincing. " 1 
Any reader of manuscript plays knows that again and again, 
when he has objected to something as entirely improbable, 
he has been told indignantly: "Why, you must accept that, 
for it happened exactly like that to my friend, Smith." On 
the other hand, who refuses to see The Merchant of Venice 
because of the inherent improbability of the exaction of the 
pound of flesh by Shy lock? Highly improbable it is, but 
Shakespeare makes this demand come from a figure so hu- 
man in all other respects that we accept it. A subject is not 
to be rejected because true or false. Every dramatic subject 
must be presented with the probable human experience, the 
ethical ideas, and the imaginativeness of the public in mind. 
To a dramatist all subjects are possible till, after long wres- 
tling with the subject chosen, he is forced to admit that, 
whether originally true or false, he cannot make it seem 
probable to an audience. Facts are, of course, of very great 
value in drama, but if they are to convince a theatrical pub- 
lic, the dramatist must so present them that they shall not 
run completely counter to what an audience thinks it knows 
about life. 

Nor should a person who knows absolutely nothing of the 
theatre attempt to write plays. He should go to see plays 
enough to know how long a performance usually lasts, waits 
between the acts included, say two hours and a half to two 
hours and three quarters; to know about how long an act 
usually takes in playing; to gain some idea of the relation in 
time between the written or printed page and the time in 

* Hamburg Dramaturgy, p. 270. Leasing. Bohn ed. 



FROM SUBJECT TO PLOT 69 

acting; to understand that, in general, a small cast is pref- 
erable to a large one; to know that the limited space of the 
e makes some effects so difficult as to be undesirable. 
This is to have ordinary common sense about the theatre. 
Otherwise, what he puts on paper will be practically sure of 
immediate rejection because the manuscript proves that the 
writer has either not been in the theatre, or being there, has 
been wholly unobservant. The following quotation seems 
almost fantastic, but the experience of the writer in reading 
dramatic manuscripts fully bears it out: 

Many of the manuscripts that are sent to the New York mana- 
gers are such impossible oddities that few readers would regard a 
description of them as really accurate. It was the privilege of the 
writer to look over a collection of "plays" that have been mailed 
recently to several of the theatrical offices, and, among the num- 
ber, lie came across a dozen that were each about fifteen to twenty 
pages in length. This included the scenic descriptions and stage 
directions. Such " plays," if enacted, would be of about ten to 
eleven minutes' duration instead of two and a quarter hours. 
Three manuscripts called for from ninety to one hundred charac- 
ters, and from nine to fourteen different scenes. Eight manu- 
scripts were divided into nine acts each and, judging from their 
thickness, would have run on for days, after the fashion of a Chi- 
nese drama. One "play" was laid in the year 2200 a.d., and called 
for twelve actors to portray " the new race of men " — each man to 
be at least seven feet tall. These characters were to make all their 
entrances and exits in airships. Several manuscripts that the 
writer examined would have required professional strong men in 
their enactment, so difficult were the physical feats outlined for 
some of the actors. A great number of "modern dramas" included 
a ream of colloquialisms and anachronisms intermixed with Louis 
XV situations. And one manuscript, entitled "Love in All Ages" 
called for twelve different acts with a new group of nine differently 
built actors in each. 1 

A stage direction which ran something like this is the most 
naive in the experience of the writer. "Germs of a loconio- 

* The United State* qf PlayvrighU, Henry Savage. The Bookman, September, 1909. 



70 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

tive, a cathedral, etc., detach themselves in an unknown 
manner from the walls and float airily, merrily about the 
room." Impossible? Possibly not for a genius of a stage 
manager. Likely to recommend the play to a manager try- 
ing to judge from a manuscript the dramatic sense of its 
unknown author? Hardly. 

Granted then that a would-be playwright has acquired 
ordinary common sense about the theatre and has some point 
of departure, how does he move from it to plot? First, by 
taking time enough, by avoiding hurry. Let any would-be 
dramatist get rid promptly of the idea that good plays are 
written in a rush. It is perfectly true that the mere writing 
out of a play has often been done in what seems an amazingly 
short time, — a few weeks, days, or even hours. However, in 
every case of rapid composition, as for instance Sheridan's 
Rivals, which was put on paper in very brief time, the 
author has either mulled his material for a long time or was 
so thoroughly conversant with it that it required no careful 
thinking out at the moment of composition. In The Rivals 
Sheridan drew upon his intimate knowledge for many years 
of the people and the gossip of the Pump Room at Bath. 
Mr. H. A. Jones has more than once testified, "I mull long 
on my plot, sometimes a year, but when I have it, the rest 
(the mere writing out) is easy." Sardou turned out a very 
large number of plays. Nor are his plays, seemingly, such as 
to demand the careful preparation required for the drama 
of ideas or the drama more dependent on characterization 
than incident. Yet he worked very carefully at all stages, 
from point of departure to final draft. "Whenever an idea 
occurred to Sardou, he immediately made a memorandum 
of it. These notes he classified and filed. For example, years 
before the production of Thermidor he had the thought of 
one day writing such a play. Gradually the character of 
Fabienne shaped itself; Labussiere was devised later to fit 



FROM SUBJECT TO PLOT 71 

uolin. Everything that he read about that epoch of the 
Prench Revolution, and the ideas which hil reading inspired, 
he wrote down in the form of rough notes. Engravings, maps, 
prints, and other documents of the time he carefully col- 
lected. Memoirs and histories he annotated and indexed, 
filing away the index references in his file cases, or dossiers. 
At the time of his death, Sardou had many hundreds of these 
dossiers, old and new. Some of the older ones had been 
worked up into plays, while the newer ones were merely raw 
material for future dramas. When theideaof a play hadmeas- 
urably shaped itself in his mind he wrote out a skeleton plot 
which he placed in its dossier. There it might lie indefinitely. 
In this shape Thermidor remained for nearly twenty years, 
and Theodora for ten. When he considered that the time was 
ripe for one of his embryonic plays, Sardou would take out 
that particular dossier, read over the material, and lay it 
aside again. After it had fermented in his brain for a time, he 
would, if the inspiration seized him, write out a scenario. 
After this, he began the actual writing of the play." 1 

Late in the seventeenth century, one of the most prolific 
of English playwrights, John Dryden, contracted to turn out 
four plays a year. He failed completely to carry out his 
promise. Some dramatists of a much more recent day should 
attribute to the speed with which they have turned out plays 
their repeated failures, or, after early successes, their w T aning 
hold on the public. Every dramatist should keep steadily in 
mind the words of the old French adage: "Time spares not 
that on which time hath been spared." Time, again time, 
and yet again time is the chief element in successful writing 
of plays. 

A wandering, erratic career is forbidden the dramatist. 
Back in the eighteenth century Diderot stated admirably 
the qualities a dramatist must have if he is to plot well. 

» Sardou and the Sardou Plays, p. 125. J. A. Hart J. B. Lippincott & Co., Philadelphia. 



72 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

"He must get at the heart of his material. He must con- 
sider order and unity. He must discern clearly the moment 
at which the action should begin. He must recognize the 
situations which will help his audience, and know what it 
is expedient to leave unsaid. He must not be rebuffed by 
difficult scenes or long labor. Throughout he must have 
the aid of a rich imagination. " l Selection, Proportion, Em- 
phasis, Movement, — all making for clearness, — these as 
the words of Diderot suggest, are what the dramatist 
studies in developing his play from Subject, through Story 9 
to Plot. 

> D$ la Poltie Dramatique. Diderot. (Euvret, vol. vu, p. 321. Gamier Freres. Paris. 



CHAPTER IV 

FROM SUBJECT THROUGH STORY TO PLOT. CLEARNESS 
THROUGH WISE SELECTION 

Dumas the younger, at twenty, wishing to write his first 
play, asked his father for the secret of a successful play. That 
man of many successful novels and plays replied: "It's 
very simple: First Act, clear; Third Act, short; and every- 
where, interest." Though play- writing is not always so easy 
a matter as when a man of genius like Dumas the elder wrote 
the relatively simple romantic dramas of his day, he em- 
phasized one of the fundamentals of drama when he called 
for clearness in the first act. He might well have called for 
it everywhere. First of all, a dramatist who has found his 
point of departure must know just what it means to him, 
what he wants to do with it. Is he merely telling a story for 
its own sake, satisfied if the incidents be increasingly inter- 
esting till the final curtain falls? Is he writing his play, 
above all, for one special scene in it, as was Mr. H. A. 
Jones, in Mrs. Dane's Defence, 1 in its third act? Does he 
merely wish to set people thinking about conditions of to- 
day, to write a drama of ideas, like Mr. Galsworthy in 
The Pigeon, 2 or M. Paul Loyson, in The Apostle ? 3 Has he, 
like Brieux in Damaged Goods 4 or The Cradle, 5 an idea he 
wishes to convey, and so must write a problem play? Is his 
setting significant for one scene only or has it symbolic 
values for the whole play? As Dumas the younger well 

i Samuel French, New York. 

1 Chas. Scribner's Sons, New York. 

1 Drama League Series, Doubleday, Page & Co., New York. 

« Brentano, New York. 

• Lt Berceau. P. V. Stock, Paris. 



74 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

said, "How can you tell what road to take unless you know 
where you are going?" 1 

The trouble with most would-be dramatists is that they 
make too much of the mere act of writing, too little of the 
/ thinking preliminary to composition and accompanying it. 
With the point of departure clearly in mind, seeing some 
characters who immediately connect themselves with the 
subject, forecasting some scenes and a few bits of dialogue, 
they rush to their desks before they see with equal clearness, 
we will not say the plot but even the story necessary for the 
proposed play. What is the result? " They have a gen- 
eral view of their subject, they know approximately the sit- 
uations, they have sketched out the characters, and when 
they have said to themselves, 'This mother will be a coquette, 
this father will be stern, this lover a libertine, this young 
girl impressionable and tender/ the fury of making their 
scenes seizes them. They write, they write, they come upon 
ideas, fine, delicate, and even strong; they have charming 
details ready to hand : but when they have worked much and 
j/ come to plotting, for always one must come to that, they 
try to find a place for this charming bit; they can never 
make up their minds to put aside this delicate or strong 
idea, and they will do exactly the opposite of what they 
should, — make the plot for the sake of the scenes when 
the scenes should grow out of the plot. Consequently the 
dialogue will be constrained in movement and much trouble 
and time will be lost." 2 

A modern play recently submitted to the writer in manu- 
script showed just this trouble. Act I was in itself good. 
Act II was good in one scene, bad in the other. Act III 
was in itself right. Yet at the end of the play one queried: 
"What is the meaning of it all?" Nothing bound the parts 

1 Preface, Au Public, to La Princesse Georges. A. Dumas fils. CEuvres, vol. v, p. 79. Cal» 
mann Levy, Paris. 

* De la Pottie Dramatique. Diderot. (Euvret, vol. vn, pp. S21-322. Gamier Freres, Pari*. 



CLEARNESS 75 

together. There was no clear emphasis on some central pur- 
pose. The author, when questioned, admitted that with cer- 
tain characters in mind, he had written the scenes as they 
came to him. When pressed to state his exact subject, he 
advanced first one, then another, at last admitting candidly: 
" I guess I never have been able to get far enough away from 
the play to see quite what all of it does mean." Asked whether 
there was not underlying all his scenes irony of fate, in that 
a man trying his best to do what the world holds commend- 
able is bound in such relationship to two or three people that 
always they give his career a tragic turn, he said, after con- 
sideration, " Yes. What if I call my play The Irony of Life f " 
With the purpose of making that his meaning he reworked 
his material. Quickly the parts fell into line, with a clear and 
interesting play as the result. Many and many a play con- 
taining good characterization, good dialogue and some real 
individuality of treatment has gone to pieces in this way. 
A recent play opened with a well-written picture of the life 
of a group of architects' draughtsmen. Apparently we were 
started on a story of their common or conflicting interests. 
After that first act, however, the play turned into a story of 
the way in which one of these young draughtsmen, a kind 
of mixture of Get-Rich-Quick Wallingford and D'Artagnan, 
forced his way to professional and social success. Once or 
twice, scenes seemed intentional satire on our social classes. 
The fact is, the author had in the back of his mind social 
satire, characterization of the central figure, and a picture 
6f the life of young draughtsmen. As material for any one 
of these came to him when he was writing, he gave his at- 
tention wholly to it. Though this might do for a rough draft, 
it must be rewritten to make the chief interest stand out as 
most important, and to give the other interests clearly their 
exact part in a perfectly clear whole. Left as written, the 
play seemed to have a first act somewhat off the question, 



76 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

and a later development going off now and then at a tan- 
gent. Its total effect, in spite of some admirable character- 
ization, considerable truth to life, and real cleverness, was 
confusion for the audience and consequent dissatisfaction. 

Another play, often extremely well characterized, had, as 
an apparent central purpose, study of a mother who has been 
trying to give her son such surroundings that he cannot go 
the way of his father who, many years since, had embezzled. 
Yet almost as frequently the purpose seemed to be a very 
close study of the son, who, although the mother, blinded 
by her affection, does not see it, is mentally and morally 
almost the duplicate of his father. Moved with sympathy, 
now for one and now for the other, just as the interest of the 
writer led him, the audience came away confused and dis- 
satisfied. How can an audience be expected to know what a 
dramatist has not settled for himself, the chief of his inter- 
ests among several? 

When M. de Curel, with his original idea or picture for 
VEnvers (Tune Sainte sat down to reflect, "he noticed that 
the interest in the subject lies in the feelings a woman must 
experience when she returns after a long absence to a place 
full of memories, and finds herself face to face with her past 
life. There was the psychological idea which seemed to him 
alluring, — to paint a special phase of emotion." * There, 
for him, lay the heart of his subject. Bulwer-Lytton, writing 
to Macready in September, 1838, of a proposed play on the 
life of the Chevalier de Marillac, in which Cardinal Riche- 
lieu must also be an important figure, said: "Now look well 
at this story, you will see that incident and position are good. 
But then there is one great objection. Who is to do Riche- 
lieu? Marillac has the principal part and requires you; but 
a bad Richelieu would spoil all. On the other hand, if you 
took Richelieu, there would be two great acts without you, 

» Avteura Dramatiquea. F. de Curd. L'AnrUe Psychologique, 1874, p. 121. 



CLEARNESS 77 

which will never do; and the main interest of the plot would 
not fall on you. Tell me what you propose. Must we give 
up this idea?" l Bulwer-Lytton had not yet found the dra- 
matic centre in his material. At first the story and charac- 
ter of Marillac blinded him to the fact that the material was 
best fitted for a dramatic study of the great Cardinal. When, 
shortly after his letter, he came to see that the dramatic 
centre lay in Richelieu, his famous play began developing. 
With that magnet in hand, he quickly drew to him the right 
filaments of incident to make a unified and interesting story. 
Any dramatist has the right to decide first, what is the 
real importance of his subject to him, but before he finishes 
he may find that he will discard what originally seemed to 
him important, either because something interests him more 
as he reflects or because he comes to see in his subject an 
interest other than his own which will be stronger for the 
audience. M. de Curel, thinking over his proposed play, 
abandoned his first idea because "in ten minutes space it 
transformed itself. He abandoned his first idea in order to 
try to paint the slightly analogous feelings of a nun. He 
imagined a young girl who, at a former time, in a moment of 
madness, had wished to kill the wife of the man with whom 
she was infatuated. To expiate her crime, she entered a con- 
vent, took the vows, and lived in retirement for twenty years. 
Then she learned that the man whom she loved had just 
died. Whereupon, perhaps from desire for freedom, perhaps 
from curiosity, she comes out of her exile, returns to her 
family and finds herself in the presence of the widow and her 
child." Here was the beginning, not of UEnvers d'une 
Sainte, 2 but of another play, L' Invitee. "It may happen — • 
something certainly surprising — that the idea which al- 

1 Letters of Bulwer-Lytton to Macready, p. 85. Introduction by Brander Matthews. Pri- 
vately printed. The Carteret Book Club, Newark, N.J., 1911. 

> A Fd»e Saint. F. de Curel. Translated by B. H. Clark. Drama League Series. Doublet 
4ay, Page & Co., New York. 



78 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

lured the author into writing the piece makes no part of the 
piece itself. It is excluded from it; no trace of it remains. 
Note that the point of departure of Ulnvitee is an idea of a 
woman capable of murder who is passed off as insane. Of 
the murder nothing remains, and as to the mother's madness 
it is reduced to almost nothing: it is no more than a rumor 
that has been going about, and the mother has not been 
really insane." 1 Not to yield to such a compelling new as- 
pect of the subject is to find one's way blocked. The result- 
ing tragedy, or comedy, for the unyielding playwright, Mr. 
Archer states amusingly. "'Here,' says a well-known play- 
wright, 'is a common experience. You are struck with an 
idea with which you fall in love. "Ha!" you say. "What 
a superb scene where the man shall find the will under the 
sofa! If that doesn't make them sit up, what will?" You 
begin the play. The first act goes all right, and the second 
act goes all right. You come to the third act and somehow 
it won't go at all. You battle with it for weeks in vain; and 
then it suddenly occurs to you, "Why, I see what's wrong! 
It's that confounded scene where the man finds the will un- 
der the sofa. Out it must come ! " You cut it out and at once 
all goes smooth again. But you have thrown overboard the 
great effect that first tempted you.' " 2 

The point is not that when a dramatist first begins to think 
over his subject, he must decide exactly what is for him the 
heart of it. He may shift, reject, and change his own inter- 
est again and again, as attractive aspects of his subject sug- 
gest themselves. The point is that this shifting of interest 
should take place before he begins to put his play on paper. 
Not to be perfectly clear with one's self which of three or four 
possible interests offered by a subject is the one really in- 
teresting is to waste time. As the play develops, a writer 

» Auteurs Dramatiqueg. F. de Curd. V Annie Psychologique, 1894, pp. 121-123. 
I Play-Making, pp. 58-59, note. William Archer. Small, Maynard & Co., Boston. 



CLEARNESS 79 

wobbles from one subject to another and so leaves no clear 
final impression. Or he is obliged to rewrite the play, plac- 
ing the emphasis properly for clearness. In one case he fails. 
In the other he does his work twice. The present writer 
has seen many a manuscript, after a year or more of jug- 
gling with shifting interests, given up in despair and thrown 
into the waste basket. 

Probably it is best to leave till revision the question 
whether the interest presented will appeal to the general au- 
dience just as it does to the writer. It certainly can do no 
harm, however, and may save labor, when an author knows 
just what he wants to treat and how he wishes to treat it, for 
him to consider whether this interest is likely to be as im- 
portant for his public as for him. Many years ago, Mr. A. 
M. Palmer produced The Parisian Romance, a play so 
trite in subject and treatment that, as written, it might 
easily have failed. A young actor, seeing in a minor role 
the opportunities for a popular success built up a fine piece 
of characterization in the part of Baron Chevrial. That gave 
Richard Mansfield his first real start. The play was re- 
modeled so that this element of novelty, this fresh piece of 
characterization, became central. Thus re-emphasized the 
play became known all over the country. 1 Not long since 
a play written by its author to be wholly amusing, proved 
so hilarious in the second act that the actors rehearsed it 
with difficulty. When produced, however, the audience was 
so won by the hero in Act I that they took his mishaps in 
the second act with sympathetic seriousness. The play had 
to be rewritten. 

It is at careful planning or plotting that the inexperienced 
dramatist balks. Scenarios, the outlines which will show any 
intelligent reader what plot the dramatist has in mind and 
its exact development, are none too popular. They are, how- 

» See chapter x, "The Dramatist and His Public." 



( 



80 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

ever, the very best means by which a dramatist may force 
himself to find what for him is the heart of his subject. 1 The 
moment that is clear to him, it is the open sesame to what- 
ever story his play will demand. It is, too, the magnet which 
draws to him the bits of thought, character, action and dia- 
logue which he shapes into plot. 

With his purpose clearly in mind, the dramatist, as he 
passes from point of departure through story to plot, selects, 
and selects, and selects. Among all the possible people who 
might be the main figure in accomplishing his purpose, he 
picks the one most interesting him, or which he believes 
will most interest his public. From all the people who might 
surround his central figure he chooses the few who will best 
accomplish his purpose. If his people first appear to him as 
types, as in the case of The Country Boy to be cited in a mo- 
ment, selectively he moves from type to individuals. Sooner 
or later he must determine how many of the possible char- 
acteristics of his figures he cares to present. As he writes, 
/he selects from all that his people might say, and from all 
(they might do in the way of illustrative action, only what 
seems to him necessary for his purpose. No dramatist uses 
all that occurs to him in the way of dramatic incident, char- 
acters, or dialogue. As he shapes his story; as he reshapes 
his story into plot; in many cases before he touches pen to 
paper, he has rejected much, always selecting what he uses 
by the touchstone of the definite purpose which knowing the 
heart of his subject has given him. 

Doubtless some writers see situation first, and others char- 
acter, but sooner or later all must come to some story. Now 
as story is only incident so unified that it has interesting 
movement from a beginning to an end, ultimately the task 
of all dramatists is to find illustrative action which as clearly 
and quickly as possible will present the characters of the 

1 See chapter nc 



CLEARNESS 81 

story or make clear the purpose of the dramatist. Here is 
the selective process by which Mr. Selwyn got at the story 
of his ( 'ountry Boy : 

It happened to be just before Christmas of last year. The season 
some way impressed itself on me, and I began to think what a des- 
olate place New York must be for a lot of fellows who had come 
here from small towns and who were thinking of the homes they had 
left there, and longing to go back to them for the Christmas season. 
Doubtless there are hundreds of them here who came here years 
ago vowing that they would never go back till they had "made 
good," with the result that they have never since spent Christmas 
in the old home. [The initial idea.] There is always somebody to 
whom we are always successful, and some one to whom we are 
never successful, and many times, if these fellows would go back 
to their old homes, among the people who really care for them, they 
would be regarded as successes, whereas in the great city they are 
looked upon as failures. [Type character.] 

It seemed to me that a character of that kind would make a good 
subject for a play, and then I began to look around for some one 
tangible to work from. Suddenly I thought of a newspaper man I 
used to know when I lived at a boarding house on olst Street, 
here in New York. He was a free lance, and a grouchy, rheumatic, 
envious, bitter fellow, who had all the "dope" on life — was a 
philosopher and could tell every one else how to live, but didn't 
seem to be able to apply any of his knowledge to himself. He 
wouldn't even speak to any one in the boarding house but me, and 
why he singled me out for the honor I don't know. But anyway 
he did, and he used to tell me all of his troubles — how he had come 
from a little town with great ambitions, and had vowed never to 
go back till he had attained all that he had set out to get. And yet 
he had never been back. He was a failure; dressed shabbily and had 
given up hope for himself — and still, as I say, he could tell every- 
body else just what to do to succeed. When I lived there in the 
boarding house and used to see him, I thought he was the only one 
of his kind in town, but since then I have found that there are 
many others just like him. [Individual character.] 

So it occurred to me that he would be a good subject for The 
Country Hoy, and I worked out his life as it had actually been lived 
here in New York. Though the character was good I presently 
discovered that it would not do for my central figure, for the rea- 



82 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

son that he had been here too long. He had gone through the mill 
and knew all about it, and what I really needed was a boy who could 
be shown to come from the country, and who could be taken 
through the temptations and discouragements that a boy of that 
sort would have to endure. So I just drew this younger character 
from my imagination. [Selection of special figure.] 

I had to have this chap a bumptious, conceited sort of youth so 
as to have the contrast stronger when he met the hard knocks that 
were to come to him in the city. There are many boys of that sort 
in small towns. They do not see the opportunities around them 
but imagine nothing short of a big city has space enough for 
them to develop in. [Purpose determining characterization.] ■ 

From idea through type-character to the individual Mr. 
Selwyn worked to the life in New York of the older man, 
and the story of the temptations and discouragements of the 
boy. When he had reached these, Mr. Selwyn saw that the 
best story for his purpose would be a mingling of the two. 
The boy "worked, in very well with the character of the old 
newspaper man, because it allowed him to give the youngster 
the benefit of his experience, and to succeed eventually by 
taking advantage of it. That brought a happy ending for 
both of them." 2 

Any one of these stories as it lay in the mind of Mr. Selwyn 
before he turned it into plot, was a sequence of incidents, 
actions illustrative of one or both of the two characters, and, 
through them, of the original idea. Just what is meant by 
this "illustrative action" so often mentioned? In Les Oberle, 
by Rene Bazin, is a charming chapter describing the Alsa- 
tian vintage festival. At their work the women sing the song 
of the Black Bow of Alsace — in the novel but one detail of 
an interesting description. The account comes about mid- 
way in the book. When the novel was dramatized it became 
necessary to make the audience understand, even before the 
hero, Jean, enters in Act I, that absorbed in his studies in 

» My Bed Play. Edgar Selwyn. The Green Book Magazine, March, 1911, pp. 538-537. 
» Idem. 



CLEARNESS 83 

Germany, he has been unaware of the constant friction in 
the home land between the governing Germans and the 
Alsatians. Here is the way the dramatist, emotionalizing 
the description of the novel, turned it into dramatic illus- 
tration of Jean's ignorance of the condition of the country. 
Uncle Ulrich, Bastian, a neighbor, and his daughter, Odile, 
at sunset are waiting in a wood road for Jean, just arrived 
from Germany and walking home from the station. 

(Outside a voice sings as it approaches in the distance.) 

The Black Bow of the daughters of Alsace 

Is like a bird with spreading icings. 
Ulrich. Ah, look there! Who can be so imprudent as to sing that 
air of Alsace? 
The Voice. 

It can overpass the mountains. 
Bastian. If it should be he! 
The Voice. 

And watch what goes on there, 
Odile. I am sure it is Jean's voice. 
Ulrich. Foolhardy! They will hear him! 
The Voice. (Nearer.) 

The Black Bow of the daughters of Alsace — 
Ulrich. Again, and louder than ever! 
The Voice. 

Is like a cross we carry 

In memory of those men and women 

Whose souls were like our own. 
Ulrich. Jean! Upon my word that young lawyer cannot know 
the laws. Jean!" l 

Just at the end of the same act it is necessary to illustrate 
the constant presence, the activity and alertness of the Ger- 
man forces and the irritation all this means to the Alsatians. 
In a story much of this would be described by the author. 
In the play we feel with each of the speakers the irritating 
presence of the troops, and so have perfect dramatic illus- 
trative action. 

» Let Oberli. Edmond Haraucourt. L'lUuttraiion ThMtraU, Dec. 9, 1903, p. 5. 



84 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

{They are just starting of when Bastian stops them.) 
Bastian. Chut! 
Jean. What? 
Bastian. (Softly.) Listen! 
Jean. (Softly.) A rolling stone in the ravine. 
Ulrich. Another! 
Jean. Steps! 
Ulrich. Of horses. 
Jean. Well? 
Ulrich. A patrol! 
Jean. (Moved.) Ah! 
Bastian. The Hussars! 
Jean. W'hat are they doing? 
Ulrich. They are keeping watch. 
Bastian. They are drilling. 
Ulrich. Always! 
Jean. Ah! 

Bastian. Day and night. 
Ulrich. Never resting. 

Bastian. Perhaps they are trailing some deserter. 
Jean. Ah! There are deserters? 
Bastian. They won't tell you so in the town. 
Odile. But we on the frontiers see them. 
Jean. Ah! 

Bastian. They who go out by the Grand' fontaine pass this way. 
Odile. (Softly.) Near our farm. From our house one can see them 
passing. 
Jean. Ah! 
Ulrich. Chut! 

Jean. I hear the breathing of their horses. 
Ulrich. Be still. 

Jean. We are doing nothing wrong. 
Bastian. Wait. 

Ulrich. Down there — wait — lean over. 
Jean. I see — 

Ulrich. They are coming up. 
Bastian. They are going by. 
Jean. They have crossed the road. 
Ulrich. We can go down for the moment. 
Bastian. Ouf! 



CLEARNESS 85 

Jean. It is strange — twenty times, a hundred times in Germany 
I have met the patrols of dragoons, or hussars, and admired their 
fine form. Here — 

Vlrich. Here? 

Jean. Only to see them gives me a queer feeling at the heart. 

Ulrich. Don't you understand, my dear Jean? There they were 
in their own country, here they are in ours. ■ 

Early in the first scene of The Changeling, by Thomas 
Middleton, Beatrice states clearly, and more than once, the 
physical repulsion De Flores causes her. Knowing full well, 
however, the dramatic value of illustrative action, Middleton 
handled the ending of the scene in this way. Beatrice turn- 
ing to leave the room, starts as she finds De Flores close at 
hand. 

Beatrice. (Aside.) Not this serpent gone yet? (Drops a glove.) 

Vermandero. Look, girl, thy glove's fallen, 
Stay, stay! De Flores, help a little. 

(Exeunt Vermandero, Alsemero and Servant.) 

De Flores. Here, lady. (Offers her glove) 

Beatrice. Mischief on your officious forwardness! 
Who bade you stoop? they touch my hand no more: 
There! for the other's sake I part with this; 

(Takes off and throws down the other glove.) 
Take 'em, and draw thine own skin off with 'em. 

(Exit with Diapkanta and Servants.) 

De Flores. Here's a favour with a mischief now! I know 
She had rather wear my pelt tanned in a pair 
Of dancing pumps, than I should thrust my fingers 
Into her sockets here. 8 

Here the dramatist makes repulsion clear by illustrative ac- 
tion so emotional that it moves us to keenest sympathy or 
dislike for the woman herself. Dramatically speaking, then, 
illustrative action is not merely something which illustrates 
an idea or character, but it must be an illustration mirroring 

» Let OberlS, p. 7. 

* Playt oj Thomat Middleton. Mermaid Series. Chas. Scribner's Sons, New York. 



86 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

emotion of the persons in the play or creating it in the 
observer. 

What is the relation of illustrative action to dramatic situ- 
ation? The first is the essence of the second. A dramatic 
/ episode presents an individual or group of individuals so 
Vmoved as to stir an audience to responsive emotion. Illus- 
I trative action by each person in the group or by the group 
as a whole is basal. The glove incident in The Changeling 
concerns both Beatrice and De Flores. Hers is illustrative 
action when she shrinks from the glove his hand has 
touched. He shows it when kissing and amorously fondling 
tfye glove she has refused. Their illustrative actions make 
together the dramatic episode of the glove, — which is in 
turn a part of Scene 1 of the first act of the play. There are 
the divisions : play, act, scene, episode, and illustrative action. 
Just as sometimes the development of a single episode may 
make a scene, or there may be but one scene to an act, there 
are cases when an illustrative action is a dramatic episode. 
The ending of Act II of Ostrovsky's Storm illustrates this. 

Varvara, who has just gone out, has put into the hands of 
Catherine the key to a gate in the garden hedge. This Var- 
vara has taken without the knowledge of her mother, who is 
the mother-in-law of Catherine. Just as Varvara goes, she has 
said that if she meets Catherine's lover, Boris, she will tell 
him to come to the gate. Catherine, terrified, at first tries 
to refuse the key, but Varvara insists on leaving it with her. 

Catherine. (Alone, the key in her hand.) Oh, what is she doing? 
What hasn't she courage for? Ah, she is crazy — yes, crazy. Here 
is what will ruin me. That's the truth ! I must throw this key away, 
throw it far away, into the river, so that it may never be found 
again. It burns my hand like a hot coal. (Dreamily.) This is how 
we are ruined, people like me! Slavery, that isn't a gay business 
for any one. How many ideas it puts into our heads. Another would 
be enchanted with what has happened to me, and would rush on 
full tilt. How can one act in that way without reflection, without 



CLEARNESS 87 

reason? Misfortune comes so quickly, and afterward there is all 
the rest of one's life in which to weep and torment oneself, and the 
slavery will be still more bitter. (Silence.) And how bittei it is, 
rfavery ! Oh, bow bitter it is! Who would not suffer from it? And we 
Oilier women suffer more than all the rest. Here am I at this mo- 
ment battling with myself in vain, not seeing a ray of light, and I 
shan't see one. The further I go, the worse it is. And here is this 
additional sin that I am going to take on my conscience. (She 
dreams a moment.) Were not my mother-in-law — she has broken 
me: it is she who has made me come to hate this house. I hate its 
very walls. (She looks pensively at the key.) Ought I to throw it 
away? Of course I ought. How did it get into my hands? To se- 
duce me to my ruin. (Listening.) Some one is coming! My heart 
fails me. (She puts the key into her pocket.) No! — no one. Why 
was I so frightened? And I hid the key — Very well, that's the 
way it is to be. It is clear that fate wills it. And after all, where 
is the sin in seeing him just once, if at a distance? And if I were 
even to talk with him a little, where would the harm be? — But my 
husband — Very well, it was he himself who didn't forbid it! Per- 
haps I shall never have such another chance in all my life. Then I 
shall weep and say to myself, "You had a chance to see him and 
didn't know how to take advantage of it." W T hat am I saying? 
Why lie to myself? I will die for it if necessary, but see him I will. 
Whom do I want to deceive here? Throw away the key? No, not 
for anything in the world. I keep it. Come what will, I will see 
Boris. Ah, if the night would only come more quickly! 

Curtain. 1 

Sometimes, even a playwright of considerable experience, 
though his mind is full of dramatic material, finds his plot- 
ting at a standstill. The trouble is that he has not sifted his 
material by means of the purpose he has in mind. When 
he does, details of setting, bits of characterization or even 
characters as wholes, parts or all of a scene and many ideas 
good in themselves but not necessarily connected with his 
real subject, will drop out. Many plays of modern realism 
have been overloaded with details of setting, with figures, or 

1 Ch^fi-d'iEuvret Dramatique* de A. N. Ostromky. E. Durand-GrSville. E. Plon Nourrit 
et Cie, Paris. 



88 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

even scenes really unessential. In a recent play of Breton life 
a prominent detail in the setting of a cave was the figurehead 
of a ship. Even if one missed noticing this striking detail, its 
presence was emphasized by the text. It turned out, how- 
ever, that the figurehead had nothing to do with the story 
or its development, nor was it really needed for any special 
color it gave. It should, therefore, have been omitted. No 
fault is more common than the use of unnecessary figures. 
When Lady Gregory wrote her version of The Workhouse 
Ward, she wisely cut out the matron, the doorkeeper, and all 
the inmates except two. With three figures her play is a 
masterpiece. With five actors and voices from off stage, Dr. 
Hyde's Gaelic version is not. A one-act play adapted from 
the Spanish showed some dozen or more individual parts and 
a mob of at least forty. Ultimately, on a small stage, the 
plot was done full justice with half that number of individual 
parts and the crowd reduced to twenty or less. An amusing 
play of mistaken identity had a delightful scene in which an 
aunt of the heroine is proposed to by a friend of her youth. 
In it, the dramatist, with admirable characterization, set 
forth the views on matrimony of many middle-aged women. 
Yet the whole scene had nothing whatever to do with the 
story of the heroine. Consequently it was ultimately dropped 
out. That dramatic ideas must be sifted was shown on 
page 75 in the play seemingly about architects' draughts- 
men. 

" Not even when a scene, a bit of dialogue or some other de- 
tail, is entirely in character may it always keep its position. 
Though a detail or episode must be in character before it is 
admitted, it can hold its position only if it is necessary for 
the purpose of the play. Time limits everything for the dram- 
atist. The final curtain impending inevitably at the end of 
two hours and a half is the dramatist's "sword of Damocles." 
It reminds him that in a play, "whatever goes for nothing, 



CLEARNESS 89 

goes for less than nothing" because it shuts out something 
which, in its place, might be effective. In Tennyson's Becket 
is a fine scene, the washing of the beggars' feet by the Arch- 
bishop. 1 It illustrates both customs of the time and a side 
of Becket's character, yet it contained nothing absolutely 
necessary to the central purpose of the play. Consequently, 
as the play must be condensed for acting purposes, Sir Henry 
Irving cut out the whole scene. 

This time limit forces the dramatist, when choosing be- 
tween two episodes of equal value otherwise, to select that 
which does more in less space, or to combine desirable parts 
of the two episodes when possible. In Tennyson's Becket, 
Scene 1 of Act II and Scene 1 of Act III take place in Rosa- 
mund's Bower. Henry and Rosamund are the principal 
speakers in both. There is, too, no marked lapse of time be- 
tween the scenes, though Tennyson chose to separate them 
by the "Meeting of the Kings" at Montmirail. Very natu- 
rally, therefore, when condensation was necessary, Irving 
by severe cutting brought these two scenes together as 
Act II of his version. He not only saved time; he gained in 
unity of effect. Similarly, Irving brings together the es- 
sential parts of Scene 2, Act II, the "Meeting of the Kings," 
and Scene 3, Act III, "Traitor's Meadow at Freteval," 
making them the first scene of the third act in his version. 

A cluttered play is always a bad play. Such clutter usually 
comes from including details of setting, characterization or 
idea, and even whole characters or scenes, not really neces- 
sary. Selection with one's purpose clearly in mind is the 
remedy for such clutter. 

Even, however, when a writer has so carefully selected his 
dramatic episodes that each is one or more bits of illustrative 
action bearing on the main idea and entirely in character, 
he may still be short of story. He cannot rouse and main- 

1 Becket, Act i, Scene 4. Alfred Lord Tennyson. The Macmillan Co., New York. 



90 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

tain interest moving at haphazard. His central idea must 
appear in dramatic episodes so ordered as to have sequence, 
— a beginning, a middle, and an end, — and so emphasized 
as to have the increasing interest which means movement. 
He cannot have good story till it has unity of action. When 
Bulwer-Lytton wrote Macready that he had discovered the 
heart of his proposed play on Marillac to be Richelieu, note 
that he speaks of the simplification and the unity resulting: 
" You will be pleased to hear that I have completed the rough 
Sketch of the Play in 5 acts — & I hope you will like it. I 
have taken the subject of Richelieu. Not being able to find 
any other so original & effective, & have employed some- 
what of the story I before communicated to you, but simpli- 
fied and connected. — You are Richelieu, & Richelieu is 
brought out, accordingly, as the prominent light round which 
the other satellites move. It is written on the plan of a great 
Historical Comedy, & I have endeavoured to concentrate a 
striking picture of the passions & events — the intrigue & 
ambition of that era — in a familiar point of view." * 

Thomas Dekker found the source of his Shoemakers' Holi- 
day 2 in a pamphlet by Thomas Deloney, The Pleasant and 
Princely History of the Gentle-Craft. 3 This loosely written 
pamphlet tries to tell three stories supposed to redound to the 
credit of the shoemakers : that of Prince Hugh and his love 
for Winifred; that of Crispin and Crispinianus and the brave 
deeds of the latter in the wars in France; and, finally, that 
of Simon Eyre, the master shoemaker who rose to be Lo/d 
Mayor of London, his wife and his apprentices. What obvi- 
ously attracted Dekker in the pamphlet was the third story, 
to which he saw he could give much realism from his knowl- 
edge of the shoemakers about Leadenhall. Unfortunately, 



1 Letters of Bulwer-Lytton, p. 38. Brander Matthews, ed. 

* Plays of Thomas Dekker. Mermaid Series. Chas. Scribner's Sons, New York, 

« A. F. Lange, ed. Mayer & Mliller, Berlin. 



CLEARNESS 91 

the story of Simon Eyre, though it provided him with de- 
lightful characters, gave him little variety of incident. Per- 
haps today a dramatist might make such a play carry almost 
wholly on the characterization of the shoemaker group. The 
Elizabethans, however, wanted a complicated story of va- 
ried action. Dekker, though he had first-rate romantic ma- 
terial in the story of Crispin and Crispinianus, could hardly 
weave this in with the story of Eyre, a relatively recent his- 
torical figure, for one material called for romantic and the 
other for realistic treatment. There seemed the deadlock. 
But Dekker, thinking of this Crispin in love with a princess, 
who disguised himself as a shoemaker in order to win her 
hand, remembered the wars of 1588 and English sympathy 
for the Huguenots involved therein. Therefore he turned 
Crispin into Lacy, a youth of that period. Lacy is not a 
prince, but a relative of the Earl of Lincoln, and something 
of a ne'er-do-well, in love with the Lord Mayor's daughter, 
Rose. He fears that if he goes to the wars in France, his duty 
as "chief colonel" of the London Companies, he will lose 
her. Therefore he sends Askew in his stead and stays in Lon- 
don disguised as one of Eyre's shoemaker apprentices. The 
purpose of Dekker to write a realistic play of complicated 
plot has helped him to reshape his material till two stories, 
as in the case of The Country Boy, have become one. Unity 
appears in materials seemingly as irreconcilable as romance 
and realism. 

There are, however, two weaknesses in this story as now 
developed : Rose and Lacy, though they appear against the 
background of the wars, do not connect the apprentices with 
the enlistment, nor do they afford many scenes of marked 
dramatic force. Wishing one or two scenes of stronger emo- 
tion which at the same time would bring the apprentices into 
closer connection with the wars, Dekker creates Ralph, Jane, 
and Hammon. Ralph is one of the shoemakers who, pressed 



92 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

to the war, is torn from his protesting wife and fellow appren- 
tices. In his absence, the citizen Hammon falls in love with 
Jane. Trying to make her believe that Ralph is dead, he 
wishes to marry her. Ralph, returning from the war to his 
former work with Eyre, can find no trace of Jane, for after 
a slight difference with Margery Eyre, she has disappeared. 
One day a servant brings Ralph a pair of shoes to be dupli- 
cated for a wedding gift. The pair to be copied Ralph recog- 
nizes as his parting gift to Jane. Summoning his fellow ap- 
prentices to aid him, he goes to the place proposed for the 
wedding and rescues Jane. Thus some scenes of fine if 
homely emotion are provided. Wedded love is contrasted 
with that of Rose and Lacy and with Hammon's courtship, 
and through Ralph the apprentices are brought closely into 
connection with the wars. 

Many a would-be dramatist suffers, however, not from a 
superabundance of material bearing on his subject but a 
dearth of it. Again and again one hears the complaint: "I 
know who my characters are to be, and I have dramatic situ- 
ation, but I cannot find my story. I haven't enough dra- 
matic situation to round it out." Just this difficulty troubled 
Bulwer-Lytton when he was preparing for Richelieu. He 
wrote to Macready: 

Many thanks for your letter. You are right about the Plot — 
it is too crowded & the interest too divided. — But Richelieu 
would be a splendid fellow for the Stage, if we could hit on a good 
plot to bring him out — connected with some domestic interest. 
His wit — his lightness — his address — relieve so admirably his 
profound sagacity — his Churchman's pride — his relentless vin- 
dictiveness and the sublime passion for the glory of France that 
elevated all. He would be a new addition to the Historical portraits 
of the Stage; but then he must be connected with a plot in which he 
would have all the stage to himself, & in which some Home inter- 
est might link itself with the Historical. Alas, I've no such story 
yet & he must stand over, tho' I will not wholly give him up. . . . 



CLEARNESS 93 

. . . Depend on it, I don't cease racking my brains, & something 
must come at last. l 

Such difficulty means that a writer forgets or is ignorant 
of one of the first principles of dramatic composition. When 
he has three or four good situations which are in character, 
he should not hunt new situations till he is sure he knows the 
full emotional possibilities of the situations he already has. 
To decide after the closest scrutiny of the situations in hand, 
that others are needed is one thing. On the other hand, the 
inexperienced workman presents as quickly as possible the 
climactic moment of the scene he has in mind, and gets away 
as rapidly as possible to another intense climax. Finding 
himself, as a result, badly in need of additional dramatic 
moments, he hunts for situations as situations. Returning 
triumphantly with some strong emotional effect, he must 
perforce put the characters of the earlier scenes into these. 
Usually, as they have no real part in these later scenes, they 
prove troublesome. Sometimes the new scenes may be so 
reshaped as to fit the original characters, but usually the 
result of this method is that the scenes are foisted on the 
original characters, becoming obvious misfits, or that the ori- 
ginal characters are so modified as to fit them. When modi- 
fied, however, the original characters no longer perfectly fit 
the original scenes. Driven backward and forward between 
character and story, the dramatist pursuing this method 
often gives up the attempt, saying despairingly: "It is no 
use. My characters will not give me a plot." 

The trouble here is that the inexperienced dramatist treats 
the situation as if its value lay in its most climactic moment. 
Often, however, there is as much pleasure for the public emo- 
tionally in working up to the climax as in the climax itself. 
To "hold a situation," that is, to get from it the full dra- 
matic possibilities the characters involved offer, a dramatist 

* Letter* qf Bxdwer-LytUm, pp. 36-37. Brander Matthews, ed. 



94 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

must study his characters in it till he has discovered the 
entire range of their emotion in the scene. This will give 
him not only many and many a new situation within the 
original situation, but the transitional scenes which will 
unify situations originally apparently unrelated except as 
the same figures appeared in them. For example, consider 
this. 

A kindly woman in middle life comes in friendliest fashion 
to offer to take the daughter of a proud man in great finan- 
cial straits into her own home. As treated by an inexperi- 
enced writer, there was a prompt, clear statement of what the 
woman desired, with an immediate passionate denial of the 
request by the jealously affectionate father. In this treat- 
ment we lose the best of the scene. Really this worldly-wise 
woman, talking to such a man, would lead up tactfully to her 
proposal. As she led up to it, there would be many dramatic 
moments, with much interesting revelation of her own and the 
man's character. Caring for the man as she does, and loving 
the girl deeply, she would not immediately accept a refusal. 
After the man's first denial, as she tried by turns to cajole, 
convince or dominate him, there would be strong dramatic 
conflict, and, once more, interesting revelation of character. 
Given, then, some happening, the nature of the human being 
involved in it will affect its look. A second person involved 
will affect it even more. Two people, influencing each other 
because affected by the same incident will give still a third 
look to the original situation. When you have what seems a 
good situation, don't rush into another at your earliest op- 
portunity, but instead study it till you know every permu- 
tation and combination it holds emotionally for every one 
involved, both because the situation affects every character, 
and because every character may affect all the others. Then 
you will know how to "hold a situation." Said Dumas the 
Younger: "Before every situation that a dramatist creates, 



CLEARNESS 95 

he should ask himself three questions. In this situation, 
what should I do? What would other people do? What 
ought to be done? Every author who does not feel disposed 
to make this analysis should renounce the theatre, for he will 
never become a dramatist." l Though every writer may 
not examine his material by means of such formal catego- 
ries, he must in some way gain the thorough information 
about it for which Dumas calls. Then and then only he can 
select from the results of his thinking that which will best 
accomplish his purpose in the play. 

A one-act play with a very good central situation came 
to nothing because its author had not grasped the principle 
just set forth. A young man and a girl, eloping, come to the 
station of a small settlement. They find no one about, but 
the door of the ticket office ajar as if the person in charge had 
stepped out for a moment. They fear that the father and 
mother of the girl and perhaps another admirer are on their 
trail. Partly from curiosity and partly from the desire not 
to be seen till the train comes, they step into the office, clos- 
ing the door behind them. Then they discover that they are 
prisoners, for the door can be opened even from their side 
only by a person with the right key. Just at this point, the 
father and mother arrive, amazed at finding no trace of the 
fugitives. They too are puzzled by the absence of the ticket- 
seller. Just as they start out to find him he appears, apolo- 
getic for his absence. He is mildly interested in their story, 
but as he has seen no young persons, and as he expects the 
train shortly, he starts to go into his office. Then he dis- 
covers the closed door and admits that he went out to look 
for his key, which he must have dropped somewhere since 
he opened the station that morning. Here was of course a 
dramatic situation of large possibilities, but in the play it was 

1 Preface, Au Public, to La Princette George*. CEuvree, vol. v. p. 78. Calmann Levy. 
Paris. 



96 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

treated almost as just stated. Of course the sensations of the 
two young people cooped up in the ticket office, expecting 
the parents, the station agent, and the train, should have 
given us a comic scene before any one else appeared. The 
effect of the discovery that they are prisoners upon the girl, 
the effect upon the young man, the way in which the resulting 
emotions of each affect the other, all this must be given if 
the potential comedy of the situation inside the ticket office 
is to be fully used. The arrival of the father and mother offers 
a chance not only for the individual emotions of each and 
their effect upon one another, but for the emotion of the 
concealed elopers as they hear the familiar voices and un- 
derstand how enraged the parents are. There is opportunity 
for a good scene of some length here before the station 
master appears. When he does enter, he should be inter- 
esting, not simply for himself, but for the effect he has on 
father, mother, girl, and young man, and the new inter- 
play of emotions he causes among them. Add the coming 
of the former admirer with evidence he has found that the 
elopers have been making for this station; and as the new 
complications developed by his coming take shape, let the 
train be heard far up the line. Surely here is a group of 
very promising situations. 

In this play so crowded with dramatic opportunity, its 
author found only the most dramatic moments, rushing 
rapidly from one to the other. Result, a failure. Any dra- 
matic situation made up of a congeries of minor situatiors is 
like a great desk the pigeon holes of which are crowded with 
letters and personal documents. The biographer sitting 
down before it first makes himself thoroughly conversant 
with all the data. Then he selects for use only what is of 
value for the biographical purpose he has in mind. The 
people in a situation are, for a dramatist, the human data 
he must study till he so completely understands them that he 



CLEARNESS 97 

can differentiate clearly in what they offer between what is 
Useful for his purposes and what is not. 

Even Shakespeare, in his earliest work, had not grasped 
the importance of "holding a situation," as a scene in the 
First Part of Henry VI shows. He knows how to inform his 
audience in Scene 2 of Act II why it is that Talbot visits 
the Countess of Auvergne; in the Whispers of the next to 
the last line of this scene he even prepares for the surprise 
Talbot springs upon the Countess in the next scene; but 
Scene 3 itself he treats merely for the broad situation and 
a few bits of rhetoric. 

A Messenger come to the English camp has just asked 
which of the men before him is the famous Talbot- 

Talbot. Here is the Talbot; who would speak with him? 

Messenger. The virtuous lady, Countess of Auvergne, 
With modesty admiring thy renown, 
By me entreats, great lord, thou wouldst vouchsafe 
To visit her poor castle where she lies, 
That she may boast she hath beheld the man 
Whose glory fills the world with loud report. 

Burgundy. Is it even so? Nay, then, I see our wars 
Will turn unto a peaceful comic sport, 
When ladies crave to be encount'red with. 
You may not, my lord, despise her gentle suit. 

Tal. Ne'er trust me then; for what a world of men 
Could not prevail with all their oratory, 
Yet hath a woman's kindness over-rul'd ; 
And therefore tell her I return great thanks, 
And in submission will attend on her. 
Will not your honours bear me company? 

Bedford. No, truly, 'tis more than manners will; 
And I have heard it said, unbidden guests 
Are often welcomest when they are gone. 

Tal. Well, then, alone, since there's no remedy, 
I mean to prove this lady's courtesy. 
Come hither, captain. {Whispers.) You perceive my mind? 

Captain. I do, my lord, and mean accordingly. {Exeunt.) 



98 



DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 



SCENE 3. The Countess's castle 
Enter the Countess and her 'porter 
Countess. Porter, remember what I gave in charge; 
And when you have done so, bring the keys to me. 

Porter. Madam, I will. {Exit.) 

Countess. The plot is laid. If all things fall out right 
• I shall as famous be by this exploit 
As Scythian Tomyris by Cyrus' death. 
Great is the rumour of this dreadful knight, 
And his achievements of no less account; 
Fain would mine eyes be witness with mine ears, 
To give their censure of these rare reports. 

Enter Messenger and Talbot 

Messenger. Madam, 
According as your ladyship desir'd, 
By message crav'd, so is Lord Talbot come. 

Countess. And he is welcome. What! is this the man? 

Mess. Madam, it is. 

Countess. Is this the scourge of France? 

Is this the Talbot, so much fear'd abroad 
That with his name the mothers still their babes? 
I see report is fabulous and false. 
I thought I should have seen some Hercules, 
A second Hector, for his grim aspect, 
And large proportion of his strong-knit limbs. 
Alas, this is a child, a silly dwarf! 
It cannot be this weak and writhled shrimp 
Should strike such terror to his enemies. 

Tal. Madam, I have been bold to trouble you; 
But since your ladyship is not at leisure, 
I'll sort some other time to visit you. {Going.) 

Countess. What means he now? Go ask him whither he goes. 

Mess. Stay, my Lord Talbot; for my lady craves 
To know the cause of your abrupt departure. 

Tal. Marry, for that she's in a wrong belief, 
I go to certify her Talbot's here. 

Reenter Porter with keys 
Countess. If thou be he, then art thou prisoner. 
Tal. Prisoner! To whom! 



CLEARNESS 99 

Countess. To me, blood-thirsty lord ; 

And for that cause I train'd thee to my house. 
Long time, thy shadow hath been thrall to me, 
For in my gallery thy picture hangs; 
But now the substance shall endure the like, 
And I will chain these legs and arms of thine, 
That hast by tyranny these many years 
Wasted our country, slain our citizens, 
And sent our sons and husbands captivate. 

Tal. Ha, ha, ha! 

Countess. Laughest thou, wretch? Thy mirth shall turn to moan. 

Tal. I laugh to see your ladyship so fond 
To think that you have aught but Talbot's shadow 
Whereon to practice your severity. 

Countess. Why, art not thou the man? 

Tal. I am indeed. 

Countess. Then have I substance too. 

Tal. No, no, I am but shadow of myself. 
You are deceiv'd, my substance is not here. 
For what you see is but the smallest part 
And least proportion of humanity. 
I tell you, madam, were the whole frame here, 
It is of such a spacious, lofty pitch, 
Your roof were not sufficient to contain't. 

Countess. This is a riddling merchant for the nonce; 
He will be here, and yet he is not here. 
How can these contrarieties agree? 

Tal. That will I show you presently. 

(Winds his horn. Drums strike up: a peal of ordnance. The 
gates are forced.) 

Enter Soldiers 
How say you, madam? Are you now persuaded 
That Talbot is but shadow of himself? 
These are his substance, sinews, arms, and strength, 
With which he yoketh your rebellious necks, 
Razeth your cities and subverts your towns 
And in a moment makes you desolate. 

Countess. Victorious Talbot! pardon my abuse. 
I find thou art no less than fame hath bruited 
And more than may be gathered by the shape. 



ioo DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

Let my presumption not provoke thy wrath; 
For I am sorry that with reverence 
I did not entertain thee as thou art. 

Tal. Be not dismay'd, fair lady; nor misconstrue 
The mind of Talbot, as you did mistake 
The outward composition of his body. 
What you have done hath not offended me; 
Nor other satisfaction do I crave, 
But only with your patience, that we may 
Taste of your wine and see what cates you have; 
For soldiers' stomachs always serve them well. 

Countess. With all my heart, and think me honoured 
To feast so great a warrior in my house. 

(Exeunt.} 

Except for a few lines of rhetoric, could the account in 
Scene 3 be shortened? The Countess awaits Talbot; he 
comes; she reviles him in a few lines; he turns to go; she 
declares him a prisoner; he laughs at her; and as she 
stands amazed, calls in his forces brought in secret to the 
castle. When Talbot invites himself and his men to feast 
at her expense, the Countess immediately agrees. Reading 
the scene, one recalls the words of Dumas fils: "Any one 
can relate a dramatic situation : the art lies in preparing it, 
getting it accepted, making it plausible, especially in unty- 
ing the knot." 1 Here Shakespeare does not untie the knot; 
the Countess merely yields. What she feels, what happened 
thereafter, — all these are omitted. It is merely the situa- 
tion which counts. Before Talbot comes in, the scene could 
easily be made to reveal much more of the character of the 
Countess. WTien he does enter, the play of wits between 
them, even as it disclosed character, might provide inter- 
esting dramatic conflict. Surely the moment when the 
Countess thinks Talbot trapped and he coolly jeers at 
her, is worth more development. Here it is treated so 
quickly that the surprise in the entrance of the soldiers 

1 Preface to Lc Supplice (Time Femme. (Euvret, vol. v. Calmann Levy, Paria. 



CLEARNESS 101 

hardly ccts its full effect. All this is the work of a tyro, 
even if be be Shakespeare. 

In Richard //, there is a scene, not as long as that just 
quoted, in which the central situation might seem to many 
people less dramatic than that of Talbot and the Countess, 
note to what a clear and convincing conclusion Shake- 
re brings it, how plausible he makes the scene, how 
thoroughly he prepares it for the largest emotional effect by 
entering thoroughly into the characters involved. 
Enter Aumerle 

DucJiess. Here comes my son Aumerle. 

York. Aumerle that was; 

But that is lost for being Richard's friend, 
And, madam, you must call him Rutland now. 
I am in Parliament pledge for his truth 
And lasting fealty to the new made king. 

Duch. Welcome, my son. Who are the violets now 
That strew the green lap of the new come spring? 

Aunt. Madam, I know not, nor I greatly care not 
God knows I had as lief be none as one. 

York. Well, bear you well in this new spring of time, 
Lest you be cropp'd before you come to prime. 
What news from Oxford? Do these jousts and triumphs hold? 

Aum. For aught I know, my lord, they do. 

York. You will be there, I know. 

Aum. If God prevent not, I purpose so. 

York. What seal is that, that hangs without thy bosom? 
Yea, look'st thou pale? Let me see the writing. 

Aum. My lord, 'tis nothing. 

York. No matter, then, who see it. 
I will be satisfied: let me see the writing. 

Aum. I do beseech your grace to pardon me. 
It is a matter of small consequence, 
Which for some reasons I would not have seen. 

York. Which for some reasons, sir, I mean to see. 
I fear, I fear, — 

Duch. What should you fear? 
'Tis nothing but some band, whicn he has ent'red into 
For gay apparel 'gainst the triumph day. 



102 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

York. Bound to himself! What doth he with a bond 
That he is bound to? Wife, thou art a fool. 
Boy, let me see the writing. 

Aum. I do beseech you, pardon me. I may not show it. 

York. I will be satisfied; let me see it, I say. 

(He plucks it out of his bosom and reads it.) 
Treason! foul treason! Villain! traitor! slave! 

Duch. What is the matter, my lord? 

York. Ho! who is within there? 

Enter a Servant 

Saddle my horse. 
God for his mercy, what treachery is here! 

Duch. Why, what is it, my lord? 

York. Give me my boots, I say; saddle my horse. 

(Exit Servant) 
Now, by mine honour, by my life, by my troth, 
I will appeach the villain. 

Duch. What is the matter? 

York. Peace, foolish woman. 

Duch. I will not peace. What is the matter, Aumerle? 

Aum. Good mother, have content; it is no more 
Than my poor life must answer. 

Duch. Thy life answer! 

York. Bring me my boots; I will unto the King. 

Reenter Servant with boots 

Duch. Strike him, Aumerle. Poor boy, thou art amaz'd. 
— Hence villain! never more come in my sight. 

York. Give me my boots, I say. 

Duch. Why, York, what wilt thou do? 
W T ilt thou not hide the trespass of thine own? 
Have we more sons? Or are we like to have? 
Is not my teeming date drunk up with time? 
And wilt thou pluck my fair son from mine age, 
And rob me of a happy mother's name? 
Is he not like thee? Is he not thine own? 

York. Thou fond mad woman. 
Wilt thou conceal this dark conspiracy? 
A dozen of them here have ta'en the sacrament, 
And interchangeably set down their hands, 
To kill the King at Oxford. 



CLEARNESS 103 

Durh. He shall be none; 

We'll keep him here; then what is that to him? 

York. Away, fond woman! Were he twenty times my son, 
I would appeach him. 

Duck. Hadst thou groan'd for him 

As I have done, thou wouldst be more pitiful. 
But now I know thy mind ; thou dost suspect 
That I have been disloyal to thy bed, 
And that he is a bastard, not thy son. 
Sweet York, sweet husband, be not of that mind. 
He is as like thee as a man may be, 
Not like to me or any of my kin, 
And yet I love him. 

York. Make way, unruly woman! (Exit.) 

Duck. After, Aumerie! Mount thee upon his horse; 
Spur post and get before him to the King, 
And beg thy pardon ere he do accuse thee. 
I'll not be long behind ; though I be old, 
I doubt not but to ride as fast as York. 
And never will I rise up from the ground 
Till Bolingbroke have pardon'd thee. Away, be gone! 

(Exeunt.) 

So far as the situation is concerned we might go directly 
from York's "fealty to the new made King" to his "What 
seal is that?" omitting some ten lines. We should lose, how- 
ever, the deft touches which make the discovery all the more 
dramatic, — the words of York which show that he has no 
idea that his son is really involved in any disloyalty; the af- 
fectionate effort of the mother to draw the talk from un- 
pleasant subjects; and the distrait mood of Aumerie. Again, 
the discovery of the contents of the seal might be made at 
once, but the fifteen intervening lines before York cries 
" Treason ! foul treason ! " increase our suspense by their clear 
presentation of the emotions of father, mother, and son. 
Once more the situation is held when York does not declare 
at once the nature of the treason and the frantic mother 
demands again and again the contents of the paper before 



104 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

Aumerle says bitterly, and in perfect character with his first 
speeches of the scene, 

"it is no more 
Than my poor life must answer." 

Still again we should have the necessary action of the scene 
perfectly if York, as soon as he has his boots, flung out of 
the room, to be followed immediately by the Duchess, cry- 
ing that she will follow him to the King and ask the boy's 
pardon. However, had Shakespeare's treatment here been 
that he used in the scene of Talbot and the Countess we 
should have lacked the perfect portrayal of the mother who 
loses all sense of right and wrong in fear that her loved child 
may die. Finally, do we not gain greatly by the characteri- 
zation of the Duchess in the last lines of the scene? Five 
times, then, Shakespeare, by entering into his characters, 
"holds the situation." 

The second act of The Magistrate,* by Sir Arthur Pinero, 
is in central situation broadly this. Cis Farringdon, repre- 
sented by his mother to his stepfather, Mr. Posket, as four- 
teen, because she does not like to admit her own age, is really 
nineteen and precocious at that. He has brought Mr. Posket 
to one of his haunts, a supper room in the Hotel des Princes, 
Meek Street, London, where they are to sup together. 
As Mr. Posket is a police justice, he has been induced to 
figure for the evening as "Skinner of the stock exchange." 
Shortly after the arrival of the two comes word that a fre- 
quenter of the restaurant twenty years ago, now returned to 
London, wants to sup in their chosen room for the sake of old 
times. Therefore Mr. Posket and Cis are put into an ad- 
joining room. Colonel Lukyn, the returned stranger, and a 
friend, Captain Vale, enter. Just as they are ordering supper, 
a note comes to the effect that Mrs. Posket, with a woman 

1 Walter H. Baker & Co., Boston ; W. Heinemann, London. 



CLEARNESS 105 

friend, is below, begging to speak with her old acquaintance, 
Colonel Lukyn. As Mrs. Posket asks a private interview, 
Captain Vale is put out on the balcony. With Mrs. Posket 
comes her sister Charlotte. We have already learned from 
Vale that he is deeply depressed because he thinks Charlotte 
no longer cares for him. Mrs. Posket has come to beg 
Colonel Lukyn, who knew her before she became a widow, 
not to reveal the truth about her age. 

Watch now the permutations and combinations the author 
develops from this general situation. Cis is hardly in the 
room before Isadore presents his bill for past meals. Cis sees 
the chance, by borrowing from his stepfather, to settle a long 
postponed account. Three figures, moved in turn by shrewd- 
ness, trickiness, and gullibility, stir us to amusement, giving 
us Situation I. Even as the bill is paid, Cis asks Isadore to 
show Mr. Skinner the trick of "putting the silver to bed." 
Three people amused or interested by a trick, amuse us — 
Situation II. With the coming of the note from Alexander 
Lukyn, and the assignment of the room adjoining to Cis and 
Mr. Skinner-Posket, there is a hint of future complication 
which amuses us — Situation III. Lukyn and Vale entering, 
the former sentimental over his memories of the place, and 
the latter comically depressed over what he thinks to be the 
faithlessness of Charlotte Verrinder, give us Situation IV. 
The note saying Mrs. Posket is below with a friend, asking 
a private interview, produces Situation V, for it amuses us to 
think what may happen with Mr. Posket and Cis just on 
the other side of the door. Placing Vale on the balcony leads 
to Situation VI, for he goes with amusing regret for the de- 
layed supper. 

Up to this point the situations may be declared parts of the 
main situation, which must now itself be developed. Just 
after Blond, the proprietor, ushers in the ladies, the patter- 
ing of rain outside is heard. 



106 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

Lukyn. Good gracious, Blond! What's that? 

Blond. The rain outside. It is cats and dogs. 

Lukyn. {Horrified.) By George, is it? (To himself, looking towards 
window.) Poor devil! (To Blond.) There isn't any method of get- 
ting off that balcony is there? 

Blond. No — unless by getting on to it. 

Lukyn. What do you mean? 

Blond. It is not at all safe. Don't use it. 

(Lukyn stands horror-stricken. Blond goes cut. Heavy rain 
is heard.) — Situation VII. 

As Mrs. Posket reveals to Lukyn the complications in which 
her lie is involving her, voices from the next room, not clearly 
distinguished by those on the stage, but known to us as the 
voices of Cis and Mr. Skinner-Posket, are heard — Situa- 
tion VIII. Just when Lukyn is straining every nerve to get 
the ladies away so that he may release Vale, Charlotte, over- 
whelmed by hunger, invites herself to supper — Situation 
IX. As the two women eat, Lukyn sits in anxious despair, at 
times forgetful of his guests. This brings Situation X, when 
Vale reaches out from behind the curtains of the balcony 
and passes to the absent-minded Lukyn from the buffet the 
dishes Charlotte desires. When Charlotte, turning suddenly, 
sees the outstretched arm, we have Situation XL WTien 
Vale reenters, thoroughly irritated and quarrels with Lukyn, 
we have Situation XII. The reunion of Charlotte and Vale 
makes the thirteenth. That is, if six initial situations pro- 
duced the situation when all the characters were upon the 
stage, Sir Arthur has developed seven new situations from 
the sixth. Now by adding a fresh complication through some 
new figures, he develops six more situations. 

Just as Lukyn, Mrs. Posket, Charlotte, and Vale are about 
to leave amicably, Blond rushes in to say that the police are 
below because the prescribed hour for closing has passed. 
The names and addresses of all persons found on the prem- 
ises will be taken — Situation XIV. Lukyn, Vale, Mrs. Posket 



CLEARNESS 107 

and Charlotte hide themselves in different parts of the room, 
putting out the lights. Situation XV is the entrance in the 
darkness of Blond leading Cis and Mr. Skinner-Posket, in 
order that the other room may be searched safely. At last, 
the room where all are hidden is examined by the police. All 
try to hold their breath, but in vain. The police detect some 
one breathing — Situation XVI. In the resulting confusion, 
Cis escapes, dragging his stepfather with him — Situation 
XVII. The other four when caught, foolishly give false 
names. Lukyn, thoroughly irritated by the officers, flings 
one of them aside and attempts to force his way out, when 
he and his party are promptly arrested for assault — Situ- 
ation XVIII. 

Lukyn, You'll dare to lock us up all night? 

Messiter. It's one o'clock now, Colonel — you'll come on first 
thing in the morning. 

Lukyn. Come on? At what court? 

Messiter. Mulberry Street. 

Agatha Posket. Ah! The Magistrate? 

Messiter. Mr. Posket, Mum. 

(Agatha Posket sinks into a chair, Charlotte at her feet ; 
Lukyn, overcome, falls on Vale's shoulders.) — Situa- 
tion XIX. 

Five situations of nineteen lead up to the sixth. Seven 
are developed from that sixth by means of four people. The 
new complication, the search of the restaurant by the police 
and the bringing into one room of all the figures, gives us 
six more situations. Certainly Sir Arthur knows how to 
"hold a situation." 

Act III of Mrs. Dane's Defence ' is just equally divided 
between preparatory material and the great scene which ebbs 
and flows about the following situation. Mrs. Dane, in love 
with Lionel, the adopted son of Sir Daniel Carteret, at the 
opening of the scene has lied so successfully about her past 

> The Macmillan Co., New York. 



io8 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

that Sir Daniel, who has been suspicious of her, has been en- 
tirely convinced of her innocence. Eager to help her set her- 
self right, he asks in the kindest way for information which 
may aid him. Trying not to commit herself, Mrs. Dane slips 
once or twice and all the old suspicions of Sir Daniel are re- 
aroused. He cross-examines her so rigidly that ultimately 
she breaks down and confesses. Handled by the inexperi- 
enced that situation might have been good for four or five 
pages. As treated by Mr. H. A. Jones, it makes a scene of 
twenty pages of finest suspense and climax. The situation 
is well held because every reaction upon it by the two char- 
acters has been worked out. 

One would hardly think two quarrelsome inmates of a poor- 
house, visited by a relative of one of them who wishes to take 
him away to manage her place, likely to produce a master- 
piece of comic drama. Yet it does with Lady Gregory in The 
Workhouse Ward, 1 for she knows Irish character and speech 
so intimately that minor situation after minor situation de- 
velops, through the characters, from the original situation. 

Indeed, much of our so-called new drama is but a pro- 
longed holding of a situation stated as the play opens, or 
clearly before us at the end of Act I. Chains 2 of Miss Eliza- 
beth Baker in Act I puts this double situation before us. A 
young married man without children, though happy enough 
in his marriage, is so weary of the sordidness of his small 
means and limited opportunities that he longs to break away, 
go out to Australia, and when he has made a career for him- 
self, send for his wife. His sister-in-law, a shop girl, equally 
weary of her life, is weakly thinking of marrying a man she 
does not love, but who really loves her, in order to escape the 
grayness of her life. At the end of the play these two are 
accepting the situations in which we found them. Yet the 
three acts of the play are full of varied interest for an audi- 

i Seven Short Plays. Maunsel & Co., Dublin. 

1 J. W. Luce & Co., Boston ; Sidgwick & Jackson, Ltd., London. 



CLEARNESS 109 

ence, so admirably does the writer discern the situations 
which her characters will develop from the original situation. 
II indie Wakes, 1 the best play of Stanley Houghton, is really 
a study of the way in which a situation which took place be- 
fore the play began affects three families. 

Surely it must now be evident that if a dramatist should 
in the first place understand perfectly that illustrative ac- 
tion is the core of drama, and must be carefully selected; 
and secondly that he must, among possible illustrative ac- 
tions, select those which quickest will produce the largest 
emotional results; he must also recognize that till he has 
searched and probed his situations by means of the charac- 
ters, in the first place he cannot know which are his strongest, 
and in the second place cannot hope to hold the situations 
chosen. 

Another complaint from the inexperienced dramatist 
when shaping up his story is that though he sees the big mo- 
ments in his play, he does not see his way from one to an- 
other. That is, transitional scenes are lacking. They will not 
worry him long, however, if he follows the methods just 
stated for holding a situation. Let him watch the people 
who have come into his imagination, first simply as people. 
Who and what are they? Secondly, what are they feeling and 
thinking in the situations which have occurred to him? He 
can't long consider this without deciding what people they 
must have been in order to be in the situations in question. 
Hard upon this comes the question: "What will people who 
have been like these and have passed through this experi- 
ence do immediately, and thereafter? In the answer to the 
question, " What have they been?" he finds the transitional 
scenes which take him back into an earlier episode; in the 
answer to "What will they become?" the transitional scenes 
that carry him forward. In the scene cited from Richard II 

» J. W. Luce & Co., Boston; Sidgwick & Jackson, Ltd., London. 



no DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

the main moments are the home-coming, the discovery of 
the traitorous paper, and the departure of the Duke and 
Duchess of York. How is the transition from one to the other 
to be gained? Through knowledge of the characters, as the 
analysis showed. What applies here to transition within a 
scene from dramatic moment to dramatic moment applies 
equally in transition from scene to scene. Suppose that Sir 
Arthur Pinero had as the starting-point of the third act of 
The Magistrate the idea that Mrs. Posket should be arrested 
under such conditions that she must appear in the court of 
her husband when he is as guilty as she. Sir Arthur has de- 
cided that they must be in some place like the Hotel des 
Princes when it is raided. He has in mind episodes which 
will bring them all together at that place. He already sees 
clearly the scene of the raid and the arrest. But the place 
cannot be raided till late in the evening, and Agatha Posket 
is too jealous of her reputation thoughtlessly to stay late 
in such a place. What are to be the transitional " scenes " 
which, in the first place, shall make us feel that consider- 
able time has passed since Mrs. Posket came to the hotel, 
and secondly shall keep us amused? Sir Arthur finds them 
through the characters. It is the hunger of self-indulgent 
Charlotte which motivates the staying and gives us the 
supper " scene." It is the character of Vale which gives 
us his quarrel with Lukyn. The love making of Charlotte 
and Vale provides another transitional " scene." In other 
words, whether one is looking for more episodes or for 
transitions from one chosen episode to another, one should 
not go far afield hunting episodes as episodes, but should 
become acquainted with the characters as closely as pos- 
sible. They will solve the difficulties. 

All this lengthy consideration of selection makes for unity 
of action in the story resulting. Some unity of action, 
whether the story be slight or complicated, there must be. 



CLEARNESS 1 1 1 

Of the three great unities over which there has been endless 
discussion, Action, Place, and Time, the modern dramatists, 
II wc shall see, treat Place with the greatest freedom, and 
ire constantly inventing devices to avoid the Time difficulty. 
With the dramatists of the present, as with the dramatists 
of the past, however, what they write must be a whole, a 
unit. Some central idea, plan, purpose, whatever we choose 
to call it, must give the play organic structure. Story is the 
first step to this. Which gives most pleasure, — a string of 
disconnected anecdotes and jests; or a series of them given 
some unity because they concern some man of note, for 
instance, Abraham Lincoln; or the same series edited till, 
taken all together, they make Abraham Lincoln, in one or 
more of his characteristics, clearer than ever before? Does 
not a large part of our pleasure in biography come from the 
way in which it co-ordinates and interprets episodes and 
incidents hitherto not properly inter-related in our minds? 
Unity of action is, then, of first importance in story. 

There is, however, another kind of unity which has not 
been enough considered, — what may, perhaps, be called 
artistic unity. Why is it that a play which begins seriously 
and for most of its course so develops, only to end farcically, 
or which begins lightly only to become tragic, leaves us dis- 
satisfied? Because the audience finds it difficult to readjust 
its mood as swiftly as does the author. The Climbers l and 
The Girl With the Green Eyes 2 of Clyde Fitch are examples in 
point. The first begins with such dignity and mysterious- 
ness that its lighter moods, after Act I, seem almost trivial. 
In the second play the very tragic scene of the attempted 
suicide, after the light comedy touch of the preceding parts, 
is distinctly jarring. A recent play which for two acts or 
more seemingly had been dealing with but slightly disguised 
figures of the political world had a late scene in which one of 

i The Macmillan Co., New York. « The Macmillan Co., New York. 



112 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

these politicians, like Manson in The Servant in the House, 1 
or The Stranger in The Passing of the Third Floor Back, 2 
shadowed the figure of Christ himself. The effect was jarring, 
unpleasant, and confusing, mainly because of its suddenness. 
It will be noted that in both the plays mentioned, Manson 
and The Stranger carry their suggestion from the start. 
Should we know how to take Percinet and Sylvette in The 
Romancers 3 of Rostand did not that opening scene, when 
these two, in love with being in love, read Romeo and Juliet 
together, prepare us for all the later fantasy? A dramatist 
will do well, then, to know clearly before he begins to write 
whether he wishes his story to be melodrama, tragedy, farce, 
or comedy of character or intrigue. Unless he does and in 
consequence selects his illustrative material so that he may 
give it artistic unity, he is likely to produce a play of so 
mixed a genre as to be confusing. 

"Just what is tragi-comedy, then?" a reader may ask. 
The Elizabethan dramatist frequently offered one serious 
and one comic plot, running parallel except when brought 
together in the last scene of the play. Technically, however, 
tragi-comedy is a form which, although it may contain tragic 
elements, is throughout given a general emphasis as comedy 
and ends in comedy. We do not have good tragi-comedy 
when most of the play is comedy or tragedy, and one scene 
or act is distinctly the opposite. Therefore not only unity 
of action but artistic unity, unity of genre, should be sought 
by the dramatist shaping up his story. 

How much story does a play require? This is a difficult 
point to settle, but first of all let us clearly understand that 
there are great differences in audiences as far as plotting is 
concerned. Some periods require more plot than others. 
Today we do not demand, as did the audience of Shake- 

i Harper & Bros., New York. * Hurst & Blackett, Ltd., London. 

« Doubleday & McClure Co., New York. 



CLEARNESS 113 

gpeare's time, plays containing two or more stories, some- 
times scarcely at all connected, sometimes neatly inter- 
woven. Middleton's The Changeling l contains two almost 
independent stories. This is nearly as true of The Coxcomb 2 
by Beaumont and Fletcher. On the other hand, in Much 
. 1 bout Nothing the Hero-Claudio story, the Beatrice- 
Benedict story, and the Dogberry- Verges story are so 
deftly interwoven that they are, to all appearances, a unit. 
Even as late as thirty years ago one found in many plays 
a group of characters for the serious interest and another 
for the comic values. Gradually, however, dramatists have 
come to get their comic values from people essential to the 
serious story, or from a comic emphasis they place on cer- 
tain aspects of the serious figures of the play. Today is 
the time of the single story rather than the interwoven 
story. Yet even now, so far as the public of the United 
States is concerned, a writer may easily go too far in sim- 
plicity, or rather scantiness of story, trusting too much to 
admirable characterization. That is why that delightful 
play, The Mollusc,* failed in this country. Many people, 
among them the intelligent, declared the play too thin to 
give them pleasure. That is, apparently we of the United 
States care more in our plays for elaborate stories than 
do our English cousins. 

Indeed, national taste differs as to the amount of plot 
desirable. Both Americans and English care more for plot 
than do most of the Continental nations, which are often 
satisfied with plays of slight story-value but admirable char- 
acterization. Nor is the difference a new one. Writing of 
Wycherley's arrangement of Moliere's Misanthrope in his 
Plain Dealer, Voltaire said, "The English author has cor- 

1 Playt of Thomas Middleton. Mermaid Series. Chas. Scribner's Sons, New York. 
* Workt of Beaumont and Fletcher, vol. iv. Whalley & Colman, eds. 1811. 
1 The MolUuc. H. H. Davies. Walter H. Baker & Co., Boston ; W. Heinemann, 
London. 



u 4 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

rected the only fault of Moliere's piece, lack of plot." l In 
the same Letter on Comedy, Voltaire brings out clearly what 
any student of English drama knows, that all through its 
greatest period it depended far more on complicated story 
than did the drama of the Continent. Lessing in his Ham- 
burg Dramaturgy, speaking of Colman's The English Mer- 
chant, says it has not action enough for the English critics. 
"Curiosity is not sufficiently fostered, the whole complica- 
tion is visible in the first act. We Germans are well content 
that the action is not richer and more complex. The English 
taste on this point distracts and fatigues us, we love a simple 
plot that can be grasped at once. The English are forced to 
insert episodes into French plays if they are to please on their 
stage. In like manner we have to weed episodes out of the 
English plays if we want to introduce them to our stage. The 
best comedies of Congreve and Wycherley would seem intol- 
erable to us without this excision. We manage better with 
their tragedies. In part these are not so complex and many 
of them have succeeded well amongst us without the least 
alteration, which is more than I could say for any of their 
comedies." 2 

About all the generalization one may permit one's self here 
is : For the public of the United States one can at present 
feel sure that story increases its interest in characterization, 
however fine. As we shall see in dealing with character, the 
latter should never be sacrificed to story, but story often 
ferries a play from the shore of unsuccess to the shore of suc- 
cess. Even today it is not the great poetry, the subtle char- 
acterization nor the fine thinking of Hamlet which give it 
large audiences: it is the varied story, full of surprises and 
suspense. 

In another way, Hamlet is a case in point. It shows the im- 

i Letires tur let Anglais, Lettre xix, Sur la ComSdie, p. 170. A. Basle, 1734. 
* Hamburg Dramaturgy, p. 265. Bohn ed. 



CLEARNESS 115 

ability of laying down any golden rule as to the amount 
of story a play should have. Only speaking broadly is it 
true that different kinds of plays seem to call for different 
amounts of story. Melodrama obviously does depend on 
M«>r\-happenings often unmotivated and forced on the char- 
acters by the will of the dramatist. Romance is almost syn- 
onymous with action and we associate with it a large amount 
of story. The word Intrigue in the title "Comedy of In- 
trigue" at once suggests story. Tragedy and High Com- 
edy, on the other hand, depend for their values on subtle 
characterization. In these last two forms it would seem that 
the increasing characterization must, because of the time 
limit, mean decrease in the amount of story; then Hamlet, 
with its complicated story, occurs to us as by no means a sin- 
gle instance of a play of subtle characterization in compli- 
cated story. Farce may be either of character or of situa- 
tion, but there are also farces in which both situation and 
character have the exaggerations which distinguish this 
form from comedy. Comedy of Manners must obviously 
use much characterization, but it does not preclude a com- 
plicated story. Melodrama, then, does call above all else for 
story. With all the other forms it is in the last analysis 
the common sense of the dramatist which must tell him how 
much story to use. He will employ the amount the time 
limits permit him if he is at the same time to do justice to 
his characters and to the idea, if any, he may wish to convey. 
That is, story as we have been watching it develop from the 
point of departure is, for the dramatist, story in the rough. 
It is only when it has been proportioned and emphasized 
so that upon the stage it will produce in an audience the 
exact emotional effects desired by the dramatist that it be- 
comes plot. 

Just as the point of departure for a play comes to a writer 
as a kind of unconscious selection from among all possible 



n6 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

subjects, so we have seen that story takes shape by a similar 
process of conscious or unconscious selection till it is some- 
thing with a beginning, a middle, and an end, and clear. Nor 
does selection stop here. The very necessary proportioning 
and emphasizing mean, as we shall see, that the dramatist 
selects, and again selects. 



CHAPTER V 

FROM SUBJECT TO PLOT: PROPORTIONING THE 
MATERIAL: NUMBER AND LENGTH OF ACTS 

A dramatist, proportioning his rough story for performance 
in the limited space of time the stage permits, faces at once 
the question: "How many acts?" If inexperienced, noting 
the number of changes of set his story seems to demand he 
finds himself in a dilemma: to give an act to each change of 
scene is to break the play into many scrappy acts of a few 
minutes each; to crowd all his needed scenes into five acts is 
to get scenes as scrappy as the eight which make the fifth act 
of Shakespeare's Macbeth or the ten in Act IV of Henry VI, 
Part II. In either case, if he gives his numerous scenes ade- 
quate treatment, he is likely to find their combined length 
forces him beyond the time limit the theatre allows — about 
two hours and a half. 

Let him rid himself immediately of any feeling that cus- 
tom or dramatic dignity calls for any preference among three, 
four, or five acts. The Elizabethan drama put such a spell 
upon the imagination of English-speaking peoples that until 
recently the idea was accepted: "Five is dignity, with a 
trailing robe, whereas one, two, or three acts would be short 
skirts, and degrading." 1 Today a dramatist may plan for 
a play of three, four, or five acts, as seems to him best. 

Why, if no change of scene be required, is not a play of one 
long act desirable? At first sight, there would seem to be a 
gain in the unbroken movement. The power of sustained 
attention in audiences is, however, distinctly limited.* Any 
one who has seen a performance of The Trojan Women 2 by 

1 E<*ay on Comedy, p. 8. George Meredith. Copyright, 1897, by Chas. Scribner's Sou* 
New York. 

* The Trojan Womtn. Translated by Gilbert Murray. G. Allen & Sons, London. 



n8 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

Euripides, or von HofmannsthaFs Electro, 1 needs no further 
proof that though each makes a short evening's entertain- 
ment it is exhausting because of uninterrupted movement 
from start to finish. To plays of one long act most audiences 
become unresponsive from sheer physical fatigue. Conse- 
quently, use has confined one-act plays to subjects that may 
be treated in fifteen minutes to an hour, with an average 
length of from twenty to forty-five minutes. Strindberg has 
stated well the problem which the play in one long act in- 
•/olves: "I have tried," he wrote in his Introduction to Miss 
Julia, "to abolish the division into acts. And I have done 
so because I have come to fear that our decreasing capacity 
for illusion might be unfavorably affected by intermissions 
during which the spectator would have time to reflect and to 
get away from the suggestive influence of the author-hypno- 
tist. My play will probably last an hour and a half, and as 
it is possible to listen that length of time, or longer, to a lec- 
ture, a sermon, or a debate, I have imagined that a theatri- 
cal performance could not become fatiguing in the same time. 
As early as 1872, in one of my first dramatic experiments, 
The Outlaw, I tried the same concentrated form, but with 
scant success. The play was written in five acts, and wholly 
completed, when I became aware of the restless, scattered 
effect it produced. Then I burned it, and out of the ashes 
rose a single, well-built act, covering fifty printed pages, and 
taking an hour for its performance. Thus the form of the 
present play is not new, but it seems to be my own, and 
changing sesthetical conventions may possibly make it timely. 
"My hope is still for a public educated to a point where it 
can sit through a whole-evening performance in a single act. 
But that point cannot be reached without a great deal of 
experimentation." 2 

1 Eledra. Von Hofmannsthal. Translated by A. Symons. Brentano, New York. 
* Introduction to Miss Julia. Translated by E. Bjorkman. Copyright, 1912, by Cha& 
Scribner's Sons, New York. 



PROPORTION 119 

The difficulty with a play of only two acts is similar. If 
the piece is to fill an evening, each act must last an hour or 
more. The Winter's Tale is really a two-act play: Act I is the 
story of Ilcrmione and Leontes, Act II the story of Florizel 
and Perdiia, with Time as Chorus separating the acts. Divi- 
sion of this play into five acts and use of modern scenery 
have given it the effect of breaking to pieces midway, where 
Time speaks. When each of the two parts is played uninter- 
ruptedly, as in Mr. Granville Barker's recent revival, this 
effect disappears and it becomes clear that the original 
division is artistically right. However, so long is each of the 
two parts that The Winter's Tale, when seen in this way, 
badly strains the attention of a present-day audience. 

Contrastingly, to use more than five acts in the space of 
two hours and a half is either to carry the performance over 
into a second day, as with the two-part play of Elizabeth's 
time — something we cannot now tolerate; or to write such 
scrappy acts that the frequent shifting of scenery and drop- 
ping of the curtain spoil desired illusion. If it be remembered 
that there is nothing essentially wrong in a play of one, two, 
six, or even more acts, and that changing tastes or the neces- 
sities of particular subjects may in very rare instances make 
any of these divisions desirable, it can be said that three, four, 
or five acts are today the normal divisions for plays. 

An objection to long plays of one or two acts is that when 
the piece lasts only an hour and a half, as in the case of Miss 
Julia, the evening must be filled out with something else. In 
the first place, it is by no means easy to arrange a mixed pro- 
gram in which each play shows to complete advantage. Nor 
are audiences usually fond of adjusting themselves to new 
characters and new plots two or three times in an evening. 
On the professional stage, Barrie's short plays have done 
something to make the general public more ready to shift 
their interest to fresh subjects in the course of an evening, 



no DRAMATIC TECHNIOUE 

but a mixed program of plays is rarely popular except in 
theatres of the so-called "experimental" class. 

The advantage in three acts is that each allows a longer 
space than does the division into four or five acts in which 
characterization may develop before the eyes of the audience, 
or a larger number of illustrative actions bearing on the cen- 
tral purpose of the act may be shown. The offset is that three 
acts provide only two breaks by which the passing of time 
may be suggested. Neither four nor three acts have any es- 
sential superiority over each other, or over five acts. Five 
acts, in and of themselves, have no superiority over four or 
three; nor, as some persons have seemed to think, are they 
the only divisions in which a drama in verse may be written. 
Avoidance of awkward changes of scene within an act may 
compel use of four or five acts rather than three. The more 
episodes in the story to be dramatized, the more aspects of 
character to be shown by action, the more acts or scenes the 
dramatist must use. If long spaces of time must be allowed 
for because they are part of the story or marked changes of 
character demand them, the dramatist will need more entr'acte 
space, and, consequently, more acts. It is, then, necessary 
change of place and passage of time which are the chief fac- 
tors in determining choice among three, four, or five acts. 

For centuries theoretical students of the drama have 
worried themselves about the two unities: place and time. 
Practising dramatists, however, have usually found that 
generalizations in regard to them help little and that in each 
individual play they must work out the place and time prob- 
lems for themselves. Practice as to shifting scenes has de- 
pended most, and always will, upon whether the physical 
conditions of the stage permit many real or imagined 
shifts. The Greek stage, with its fixed background and its 
chorus nearly always present, forced an attempt at unity of 
place, though the Greeks often broke through it. 



PROPORTION 121 

Unity of action was the first dramatic law of the ancients; unity 
of time and place were mere consequences of the former which 
they would scarcely have observed more strictly than exigency re- 
quired had not the combination with the chorus arisen. For since 
their actions required the presence of a large body of people and 
this concourse always remained the same, who could go no farther 
from their dwellings nor remain absent longer than it is customary 
to <Io from mere curiosity, they were almost obliged to make the 
scene of the action one and the same spot and confine the time to 
one and the same day. They submitted bona fide to this restric- 
tion; but with a suppleness of understanding such that in seven 
cases out of nine they gained more than they lost thereby. For 
they used this restriction as a reason of simplifying the action and 
to cut away all that was superfluous, and thus, reduced to essen- 
tials, it became only the ideal of an action which was developed 
most felicitously in this form which required the least addition 
from circumstances of time and place. 

The French, on the contrary, who found no charms in true 
unity of action, who had been spoilt by the wild intrigues of the 
Spanish school, before they had learnt to know Greek simplicity, 
regarded the unity of time and place not as consequences of unity 
of action, but as circumstances absolutely needful to the represen- 
tation of an action, to which they must therefore adapt their more 
complicated and richer actions with all the severity required in the 
use of chorus, which, however, they had totally abolished. When 
they found, however, how difficult, nay at times impossible this was, 
they made a truce with the tyrannical rules against which they 
had not the courage to rebel. Instead of a single place they intro- 
duced an uncertain place, under which we could imagine now this 
now that spot; enough if the places combined were not too far 
apart and none required special scenery, so that the scenery could 
fit the one about as well as the other. Instead of the unity of a day, 
they substituted unity of duration, and a certain period during 
which no one spoke of sunrise or sunset, or went to bed, or at least 
did not go to bed more than once, however much might occur in 
this space, they allowed to pass as a day. 1 

The Elizabethan author writing, in his public perform- 
ances, for an audience accustomed to build imaginatively 

1 Hamburg Dramaturgy, p. 370. Leasing. Bohn ed. 



122 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

a setting from hints given by properties, signs on the stage, 
or descriptions in the text, changed the scene at will. Recall 
the thirteen changes in Act III of Antony and Cleopatra. 

On the modern stage such frequent change is undesirable 
for three reasons: the expense of constructing and painting 
so many scenes; the time consumed in making the changes, 
which may reduce decidedly the acting time of the play; and 
the check in sustained interest on the part of the audience 
caused by these many changes. The growth of the touring 
system also has led to reduction in the number of scenes, for 
transportation of numerous and elaborate sets is too ex- 
pensive. Moreover, the interest in extreme realism has car- 
ried us more and more into such scenes of simple or sordid 
living as call for only one to three sets in a play. 

At times it is easy, or at least possible with ingenuity, to 
have for a play, whatever its length, but one setting. Von 
Hofmannsthal's Electra is an illustration. Another is The 
Servant in the House, a play in five acts by Rann Kennedy. 

The scene, which remains unchanged throughout the play, is 
a room in the vicarage. Jacobean in character, its oak-panelling 
and beamed-ceiling, together with some fine pieces of antique fur- 
niture, lend it an air of historical interest, whilst in all other re- 
spects it speaks of solid comfort, refinement, and unostentatious 
elegance. 1 

Hervieu's Connais-Toi, a play of three acts, is another in- 
stance of one setting throughout. 2 

Not infrequently it is comparatively simple to confine a 
play to one set for each act, or even less. The Great Divide, by 
William Vaughn Moody, and The Weavers, by Hauptmann, 
show a new setting for each act. In The Truth, by Clyde 
Fitch, Acts I and II have the same setting: "At Mrs. Ward- 
er's. An extremely attractive room in the best of taste"; 

» P. 13. Harper & Bros., New York. 

2 Chief Contemporary Dramatists, pp. 517-546. T. H. Dickinson, ed. Houghton Mifflin 
Co., Boston. 



PROPORTION 123 

Acts III and IV are in "Mr. Roland's rooms in Mrs. Cres- 
pitjnijs flat in Baltimore." In the four acts of The Witching 
Hour, by Augustus Thomas, there is a change of set only for 
Act II. 1 Such reducing of possible settings to two or three 
for a play of four or five acts requires practice, and, in some 
es, decided ingenuity. In present-day use the safest 
principle is this: a set to an act, if really needed, but no 
change of set within the act unless there be unavoidable 
reason for it. 

What, then, is the would-be dramatist to do when faced 
by six or more settings to a five-act play, or two or three set- 
tings within what he believes should be an act? Often what 
seems a necessary early scene is but clumsy exposition : skil- 
ful handling would incorporate it with the scene immediately 
following. Scene 1, Act III, of Dry den's The Spanish Friar is 
in the street. Lorenzo, in friar's habit, meeting the real friar, 
Dominic, bribes him to introduce him into the chamber of 
Elvira. The scene is merely the easiest way of making the 
audience understand why the two men enter together very 
early in the next scene. 

ACT m. SCENE 1. The Street 
Enter Lorenzo, in Friar's habit, meeting Dominic 

Here follow some fifteen speeches in which the arrange- 
ments are made. Then: 

SCENE 2 

Enter Elvira, in her chamber 

Elvira. He'll come, that's certain; young appetites are sharp, 
and seldom need twice bidding to such a banquet; — well, if I 
prove frail, — as I hope I shall not till I have compassed my de- 
sign, — never woman had such a husband to provoke her, such a 
lover to allure her, or such a confessor to absolve her. Of what am 
I afraid, then? not my conscience that's safe enough; my ghostly 

1 For all these plays, idem. 



124 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

father has given it a dose of church opium to lull it; well, for sooth- 
ing sin, I'll say that for him, he's a chaplain for any court in Chris- 
tendom. 

Enter Lorenzo and Dominic 
father Dominic, what news? How, a companion with you ! What 
game have you on hand, that you hunt in couples? 

Lorenzo. (Lifting up his hood.) I'll show you that immediately. 

Elvira. O my love! 

Lorenzo. My life! 

Elvira. My soul! (They embrace.) 

Dominic. I am taken on the sudden with a grievous swimming 
in my head and such a mist before my eyes that I can neither hear 
nor see. 1 

All the needed exposition given in Scene 1 could, with 
very little difficulty, be transferred to Scene 2. Were the two 
men to enter, not to Elvira, but by themselves, they could 
quickly make their relationship clear. The conduct and 
speech of Elvira could be made to illustrate what she now 
states in soliloquy just before the two men enter. 

In the original last act 2 of Lillo's George Barnwell, the set- 
tings are: "A room in a prison," "A dungeon." The whole 
act could easily have been arranged to take place in some 
room where prisoners could see friends. Today we should 
in many cases exchange a number of settings as used in 
eighteenth century plays for one setting. 

Scenes, which in the original story occurred upstairs or 
downstairs, inside or outside a house, may often be easily 
interchanged or combined. The Chd, by Lewis Beach, a one- 
act success of the Washington Square Players, in its first draft 
showed a setting both upstairs and downstairs. This un- 
sightly arrangement was quickly changed so that all the 
action took place in a lower room. At one time Bulwer- 
Lytton thought seriously of changing what is now Scene 1, 

* Belles-Lettres Series. W. Strunk, ed. D. C. Heath & Co., Boston and New York. 

* In the seventh edition, a scene, "The place of execution," is inserted to replace the 
original brief final scene which apparently took place in the "room." Belles-Lettres Series. 
Sir A. W. Ward, ed. D. C. Heath & Co. 



PROPORTION 125 

Act I, of his Richelieu, an interior, to an exterior scene. To 
Macready he wrote: 

Let me know what you mean about omitting altogether the 
BOM at Marion de Lorme's. 

Do you mean to have no substitute for it? 

What think you of merely the outside of the House? Francois, 
coming out with the packet and making brief use of Huguet and 
Mau prat [who figure in the interior scene]. Remember you wanted 
to have the packet absolutely given to Frangois. 1 

Greek plays, because of the fixed backing, provide many 
illustrations of interior scenes brought outdoors : 

. . . The dramatic action was necessarily laid in the open air 
— usually before a palace or temple. ... In general the drama- 
tists displayed an amazing fertility of invention in this particular, 
as a few illustrations will suffice to show. In the Alcestis Apollo 
explains his leaving Ametus' palace on the ground of the pollution 
which a corpse would bring upon all within the house (Euripides' 
Alcestis, 22 f.) and Alcestis herself, though in a dying condition, 
fares forth to look for the last time upon the sun in heaven {ibid. 
206). CEdipus is so concerned in the afflictions of his subjects that 
he cannot endure making inquiries through a servant but comes 
forth to learn the situation in person (Sophocles' CEdipus Rex, 
6 f.). Karion is driven out of doors by the smoke of sacrifice upon 
the domestic altar (Aristophanes' Plvtus, 821 f.). In Plautus' 
Mostellaria (1, ff.) one slave is driven out of doors by another as the 
result of a quarrel. Agathon cannot compose his odes in the winter 
time, unless he bask in the sunlight (Aristophanes' Thesmophoria- 
zuscp, 67 f.). The love-lorn Phsedra teases for light and air (Eu- 
ripides' Hippohjtus, 181). And Medea's nurse apologizes for her 
soliloquizing before the house with the excuse that the sorrows 
within have stifled her and caused her to seek relief by proclaiming 
them to earth and sky (Euripides' Medea, 56 ff.). 2 

When it is not easy to see how a number of settings may 
be cut down, a dramatist should carefully consider this: 
May episodes happening to the same person or persons 

1 Letters of Bulmer-Lytton to Macready, xxvin. Brander Matthews, ed. 
* The Influence of Local Theatrical Conditions upon the Drama of the Greeks. Roy C. Flick- 
ingcr. Classical Journal, October, 1911. 



126 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

in the same settings, but apparently demanding separate 
treatment because they occur at widely different times, be 
brought together? The dramatizer of a novel faces many 
opportunities for this telescoping of scenes. Any one adapt- 
ing A Tale of Two Cities, if he uses Jerry Cruncher, will prob- 
ably combine the two scenes in his home. To bring together 
incidents happening to the same person or persons at the 
same place, but at different times, is the easiest method of 
cutting down possible scenes. 

It is, of course, possible to bring together circumstances 
which happened at different places at different times, but to 
the same persons. A notable instance is Irving's compacting 
of two scenes in Tennyson's Becket : he places at Montmirail 
what is essential in both Scene 2, Act II, Montmirail. "The 
Meeting of the Kings," and Scene 3, Act III, "Traitor's 
Meadow at Freteval." It is, indeed, often necessary to trans- 
fer a group of people from the exact setting in which an occur- 
rence took place to another which makes possible other im- 
portant action. In Haraucourt's adaptation of Les Oberle, 
a dinner party at the Brausigs' is transferred to the home of 
Jean Oberle, with his father and mother as hosts. This 
change permits the adapter to follow the dinner party with 
episodes which must take place in Jean's home. This group 
of changes concerns, obviously, bringing to one place events 
which happened to the same persons at another place, and 
even at another time. 

Sometimes necessary condensation forces a dramatist to 
bring together at one place what really happened at the same 
time, but to other people in another place. For instance, the 
heroine of the play is concealing in the house her Jacobite 
brother, supposed by the people who have seen him to be 
the Pretender himself. The Whig soldiery come to search 
the house. Sitting at the spinet, the girl makes her brother 
crouch between her and the wall, folding her ample gown 



PROPORTION 127 

around and over him. Then, as the officer and his men mi- 
nutely search the room, she plays, apparently idly song after 
of the < lay. Just at this time, but at a distance, her lover, 
a young Whig officer, is eating his heart out with jealousy, 
because he fears that she is concealing the Pretender through 
love of him. Why waste time on a separate scene for the 
lover? Make him the officer in command of the searching 
troop: then all that is vital in what was his scene can be 
brought out when what happened to the same people at the 
same time, but at different places, is made to happen at the 
same place. 

Similarly, what happened to two people in the same place 
but at different times may sometimes, with ingenuity, be 
made to happen to one person, and thus time saved. 

Finally, what happened to another person at another time, 
and at another place may at times be arranged so that it will 
happen to any desired figure. About midway in the novel 
Les Oberle, Jean and his uncle Ulrich hear the women at the 
autumn grape-picking sing the song of Alsace. In the play, 
in the first scene, Jean sings it as he passes from the rail- 
way station to his house. 1 Shakespeare, in handling the origi- 
nal sources of Macbeth, also illustrates successful combina- 
tion around one person of incidents or details historically 
associated with other persons, times, and even places. 

Most of the story is taken from Holinshed's account [in the His- 
toric of Scotland] of the reigns of Duncan and Macbeth (a.d. 1034- 
1057), but certain details are drawn from other parts of the chron- 
icle. Thus several points in the assassination of Duncan, like the 
drugging of the grooms by Lady Macbeth, and the portents de- 
scribed in 11, iv., are from the murder of Duncan's ancestor Duffe 
(a.d. 972); and the voice that called "Sleep no more!" seems to 
have been suggested by the troubled conscience of Duffe's brother 
Kenneth, who had poisoned his own nephew. 2 

» See p. 83. 

* Introduction to Macbeth. Cambridge ed. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston. 



128 DRAMATIC TECHNIOUE 

Marlowe, in his Edward II, — a dramatization of a part 
of Holinshed's History, — proves that he perfectly under- 
stood all these devices for compacting his material. 

The action covers a period of twenty years, from 1307, when 
Gaveston was recalled, to the death of Edward in 1327. Marlowe's 
treatment of the story shows a selection and transposing of events 
in order to bring out the one essential fact of the King's utter in- 
competence and subjection to unworthy favorites. Gaveston was 
executed in 1312, and the troubles in Ireland (n, ii.) and in Scot- 
land (u, ii.) occurred after his death, but Marlowe shifts both for- 
ward in point of time in order to connect them with Gaveston's 
baleful influence. Warwick died in his bed in 1315, seven years 
before the battle of Boroughbridge, but Marlowe keeps him alive 
to have him captured and ordered to execution in retaliation for his 
killing of Gaveston. At the time the play opens the Earl of Kent 
was six years old, but Marlowe, needing a counsellor and supporter 
of the King, used Kent for the purpose. In the play young Spencer 
immediately succeeds Gaveston as the King's favorite; really the 
young Hugh le Despenser, who had been an enemy of Gaveston, 
remained an opponent of Edward's for some six years after Gaves- 
ton's death. Historically the Mortimers belong with the Spencers, 
i.e. to the later part of the reign, but in order to motivate the 
affair between the Queen and young Mortimer Marlowe transfers 
them to the beginning of the play and makes them leaders in the 
barons' councils. 1 

The essential point in all this compacting is : when cum- 
bered with more scenes than you wish to use, determine first 
which scenes contain indispensable action, and must be kept 
as settings; then consider which of the other scenes may by 
ingenuity be combined with them. 

Evidently a dramatist must develop great ingenuity and 
skill in so re-working scenes originally conceived as occurring 
in widely separated places and times that they may be acted 
in a single set. As has been said, the audience of the public 
theatres in Shakespeare's day imaginatively shifted the scene 
at any hint from text, stage properties, or even signs. With 

» Introduction to Marlowe's Edward II. Tatlock and Martin. The Century Co. 



PROPORTION 129 

the Restoration came elaborate scenery, a gift from earlier 
performances at the English court and from the continental 
theatres which the English nobility had attended in their 
exile. By means of the "drawn scene" dramatists now 
changed rapidly from place to place. In The Spanish Friar, 
ie 1 of Act II is "The Queen's ante-chamber." For 
ie 2, "The scene draws, and shows the Queen sitting in 
state; Bertram standing next her; then Teresa, etc." These 
drawn scenes held the stage until very recently. Painted 
on flats which could be pulled off stage from left and right, 
these scenes could not be "drawn" without hurting theatri- 
eal illusion. If moved in any light, all illusion departed; if 
changed in darkness, but not instantaneously, they interfered 
with illusion. To overcome these objections there have been 
many inventions in recent years — Revolving, Wagon, Sink- 
ing Stages. 1 Undoubtedly, these make changes of scene 
within the act well-nigh unobjectionable. The difficulty 
with them is that most are elaborate and expensive, and 
therefore exist in only a few theatres. It is, consequently, 
useless to stage a play with them in mind, for on the road 
it will not find the conditions of production essential to its 
success. Occasionally, as in On Trial, some simple, easily 
portable device makes these very quick changes possible 
even on the road. At present, though invention tries steadily 
to make change of scene so swift as to be unobjectionable, it 
is wiser to keep to one setting to an act, unless the play will 
greatly suffer by so doing, or the change is one which may be 
made almost instantaneously when the lights are lowered or 
the curtain dropped. 

On the other hand, recently dramatists have rather over- 
done reducing possible settings to the minimum. While a 
change of setting within the act always demands justification, 
forcing a play of three to five acts into one or two settings 

1 See Play Production in America. A. E. Krows. Henry Holt & Co., New York. 



130 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

when, at a trifling additional cost, a pleasing variety to the 
eye and a change of place helpful to the dramatist might have 
been provided, is undesirable. Lately there have been signs 
that our audiences are growing weary of plays of only one 
set, especially when they suspect the play has been thus ar- 
ranged by skill, rather than necessity. Certainly, the newer 
group of dramatists permit themselves changes of scene even 
within the act. Act II of The Silver Box, 1 by Galsworthy, 
shows as Scene 1, "The Jones's lodgings, Merthyr Street"; as 
Scene 2, "The Barthwicks' dining-room." In Hindle Wakes, 2 
by Stanley Houghton, Scene 1, Act I, is the "Kitchen of the 
Hawthorns' house"; Scene 2 is the "Breakfast room of the 
Jeff cotes' house." To the preliminary statement of scenes the 
dramatist appended words which hint the underlying danger 
in all changes of setting, — disillusioning waits : 

Note. — The scene for Act I, Scene 1, should be very small, as 
a contrast to the room at the Jeffcotes'. It might well be set inside 
the other scene so as to facilitate the quick change between Scenes 
1 and 2, Act I. 

All things considered, it is probably best to repeat the 
statement already made : a change of scene within the act is 
desirable only when absolutely necessary; a change of scene 
with each act is desirable, except when truth to life, expense, 
or undue time required for setting it forbid. 

What exactly does this constantly repeated word "Scene" 
mean? In English theatrical usage today, and increasingly 
the world over, it signifies: "a change of setting." All that 
happens from one change of set to another change makes a 
scene. French usage, based on the Latin, till very recently 
always marked off a scene when any person more important 
than a servant or attendant entered or left the stage. For 
instance, in Les Petits Oiseaux of Labiche, known in English 
as A Pair of Spectacles, four consecutive scenes in Act I, 
which throughout has no change of setting read thus: 

-» Playt, pp. 33, 42. G. P. Putnam's Sons, New York. * J. W. Luce & Co., Boston. 



PROPORTION 131 

SCENE 4. Blandinet, Henriette, Leonce, then Joseph [a servant]. 

A scene of some fourteen brief speeches follows, when : 

(They start to go out, Tiburce appears.) 
SCENE 5. The same persons, Tiburce 
After a scene of eleven short speeches, 

(Blandinet goes over to left with Leonce.) 
SCENE 6. Henriette, Tiburce 
Ihnriettc, who sat down after the entrance of Tiburce, and took up 
her work again, rises immediately on the exit of Blandinet, folding 
her work. 

Tiburce. (Approaching her hesitatingly.) You are not working 
any longer, Aunt. . . . It's done already? 

(Henriette bows to him frigidly and qoes out at right.) 

SCENE 7. Tiburce, then Frangois 1 
What this French use of the word "scene" leads to, when 
logically carried out so that even servants entering or leaving 
the stage create a scene, the following from Act IV of George 
Barnwell, will show: 

SCENE 5. To them a Servant 
Thorowgood. Order the groom to saddle the swiftest horse, and 
prepare himself to set out with speed! — An affair of life and 
death demands his diligence. (Exit Servant.) 

SCENE 6. Thorowgood, Trueman, and Lucy 
Thorowgood. For you, whose behavior on this occasion I have 
no time to commend as it deserves, I must ingage your farther as- 
sistance. Return and observe this Millwood till I come. I have 
your directions, and will follow you as soon as possible. 

(Exit Lucy.) 
SCENE 7. Thorowgood and Trueman 
Thorowgood. Trueman, you I am sure would not be idle on this 
occasion. (Exit.) 

SCENE 8 
Trueman. He only who is a friend can judge of my distress. 

(Exit.)* 

» Tkidtre Complei, vol. r. Calmann Levy. Paris. 

• Belles-Lettres Series. Sir A. W. Ward, ed. D. C. Heath & Co., Boston and New York. 



132 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

This French division of scenes is, of course, made for the 
convenience of the dramatist as he composes and for the 
reader, not for the actor or the audience. Though somewhat 
copied in the past by English authors, it is now rejected by- 
most stages. Even French dramatists are breaking away 
from it. Memory of this French usage, however, still af- 
fects popular speech : when we speak of any part of an act 
in which two or more people are on stage, we are very likely 
to call it their "scene " no matter whether they have come 
on in a changed setting or not. Obviously if scene is to cor- 
respond with setting, we need another word for what in our 
practice is the same as the older French scene. 

Not only do necessary changes in setting make propor- 
tioning material into acts and within acts difficult, but the 
time question also raises many problems. It may be trouble- 
some within the act, between the acts, and at the opening of 
the play. In the final soliloquy of Faustus (p. 35), an hour is 
supposed to elapse in some thirty lines. Though the Eliza- 
bethan, in a case like this, was ready to assist the dramatist, 
today w r e are so conscious of time spaces that practically all 
stage clocks are temporarily out of order, lest they mark too 
distinctly the discrepancy between pretended and real time. 1 
The novelist, in a few lines, tells us of many happenings in a 
considerable space of time, or writes: "Thus, in idle talk, a 
full hour passed," and we do not query the supposed passage 
of time. On the stage, however, when one gossip says to 
another: "I must be off. I meant to stop a minute, and I have 
gossiped an hour," auditors who recognize perfectly that the 
two people have not talked ten minutes are likely to laugh 
derisively. As has been pointed out, 2 this time difficulty has 

1 Not often does a dramatist succeed in making real and supposed time agree as well as 
does Sir Arthur Pinero in Act III of The Gay Lord Quex. From seven to nine pages of ab- 
sorbing action come between one chiming of the quarter hour and the next. Though a stop- 
watch would quickly reveal the somewhat disordered condition of that boudoir clock, an 
auditor, absorbed in the action of the moment, merely feels his tension increase if he notes tht 
passing of time. 

» See p. 35. 



PROPORTION 133 

made it practically impossible to dramatize satisfactorily 
renson's The Sire de Alaletroit's Door. The swiftly-moving 
simple story demands the one-act form, but certain marked 
changes in feeling, convincing enough when they are said 
to come after ten or twelve hours of strong emotion, become, 
when they are seen to occur after twenty minutes to an hour, 
unconvincing. The central situation may be used, but for 
success on the stage the story must be so re-told that the 
marked changes in feeling are convincing even when seen. 
A dilemma results: lapses of time are handled more easily 
in three or four acts than in one act; the moment The Sire 
de MaletroiVs Door is re-cast into three or four acts, it needs 
so much padding as to lose nearly all its original values. 

When a dramatist faces the need to represent, on stage, 
a passage of time which could not in real life be coincident 
with the action of the scene, he must (a) hypnotize an au- 
dience by a long scene of complicated and absorbing emo- 
tion into thinking that the required time has passed; or 
(6) must discover some motive sufficiently strong to account 
for a swift change in feeling; (c) or must get his person or per- 
sons off stage and write what is known as a "Cover Scene." 

An audience led through an intense emotional experience 
does not mark accurately the passage of time. Make the 
emotional experience protracted, as well as absorbing, and 
you may imply or even state that any reasonable length of 
time has passed. The fearful agony of Faustus so grips an 
audience that it loses track of the time necessary for the 
speech, or would, were it not for the unfortunate emphasis 
on the actual time: "Ah, half the hour is passed; 't will all be 
passed anon"; "The clock strikes twelve." In Hamlet, the 
fourth act takes place during the absence of Hamlet in Eng- 
land. By its many intensely moving happenings, it makes an 
auditor willing to believe that Hamlet has been absent for a 
long time, when in reality he has been on the stage within a 



134 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

half hour. Such time fillings may, of course, be a portion of 
a scene, a whole scene, or even a whole act. In most cases, it 
is quite impossible that the time really requisite and the time 
of action should coincide. The business of the dramatist is 
to make the audience feel as if the time had passed — to 
create an illusion of time. 

The second method of meeting the time difficulty, finding 
motivation of some marked change in character or circum- 
stances which permits it to be as swift as it is on the stage, 
is best treated in the next chapter. 

In The Russian Honeymoon, 1 a play once very popular 
with amateurs, there is bad handling of a time difficulty. The 
hero, going out in his peasant costume, must return after a 
few speeches, in full regimentals. A lightning change of cos- 
tume is, therefore, necessary. More than once this lack of 
a proper Cover Scene has caused an awkward wait at this 
point in the play. Mark the absurdly short time Steele, in 
his Conscious Lovers allows Isabella for bringing Bevil Junior 
on stage. Apparently, the latter and all his group must have 
been waiting at the end of the corridor. 

Isabella. But here's a claim more tender yet — your Indiana, 
sir, your long lost daughter. 

Mr. Sealand. O my child! my child! 

Indiana. All-gracious Heaven! Is it possible? Do I embrace my 
father? 

Mr. Sealand. And I do hold thee — These passions are too strong 
for utterance — Rise, rise, my child, and give my tears their way 
— O my sister! (Embracing her.) 

Isabella. Now, dearest niece, my groundless fears, my painful 
cares no more shall vex thee. If I have wronged thy noble lover 
with too hard suspicions, my just concern for thee, I hope, will 
plead my pardon. 

Mr. Sealand. O! make him then the full amends, and be your- 
self the messenger of joy: Fly this instant! — Tell him all these 

1 Eugene Scribe, adopted by Mrs. Burton Harrison. Dramatic Publishing Co., Chicago. 



PROPORTION 135 

wondrous turns of Providence in his favour! Tell him I have now 
a daughter to bestow, which he no longer will decline: that this day 
hfl still shall be a bridegroom: nor shall a fortune, the merit which 
his father seeks, be wanting: tell him the reward of all his virtues 
waits on his acceptance. (Exit Isabella.) My dearest Indiana! 

(Turns and embraces her.) 

Indiana. Have I then at last a father's sanction on my love? 
I lis bounteous hand to give, and make my heart a present worthy 
of Kevil's generosity? 

Mr. Sealand. O my child, how are our sorrows past o'erpaid by 
such a meeting! Though I have lost so many years of soft paternal 
dalliance with thee, yet, in one day, to find thee thus, and thus be- 
stow thee, in such perfect happiness! is ample! ample reparation! 
And yet again the merit of thy lover — 

Indiana. O! had I spirits left to tell you of his actions! how 
strongly filial duty has suppressed his love; and how concealment 
still has doubled all his obligations; the pride, the joy of his alli- 
ance, sir, would warm your heart, as he has conquered mine. 

Mr. Sealand. How laudable is love, when born of virtue! I burn 
to embrace him — 

Indiana. See, sir, my aunt already has succeeded, and brought 
him to your wishes. 

(Enter Isabella, with Sir John Bevil, Bevil Junior, Mrs. Sealand, 
Cimberton, Myrtle, and Lucinda.) 

Sir John Bevil. (Entering.) Where! where's this scene of wonder! 
Mr. Sealand, I congratulate, on this occasion, our mutual happi- 
ness. 1 

The inexperienced dramatist sending a servant out for 
wraps, brings him back so speedily that, apparently, in a well- 
ordered Fifth Avenue or Newport residence, garments lie all 
about the house or replace tapestries upon the walls. The 
speed with which servants upon the stage do errands shows 
that they have been trained in a basic principle of drama: 
"Waste no time." A more experienced dramatist, realizing 
that such speed destroys illusion, writes a brief scene which 
seems to allow time for the errand. 

l Mermaid Series. Chas. Scribner's Sons, New York. 



136 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

The telephone and the automobile have been godsends to 
the young dramatist. By use of the first, a lover can tele- 
phone from the drug-store just around the corner, run all the 
way in his eagerness, take an elevator, and be on the scene 
with a speed that saves the young dramatist any long Cover 
Scene. Of course, if said lover be rich or extravagant enough 
to own an automobile, the distance from which he may 
telephone increases as the square of the horse-power of his 
machine. In the old days, and even today, if the truth be 
regarded, something must be taking place on the stage 
sufficient to allow time for a lover, however ardent, to cover 
the distance between the telephone booth and the house. 

Here, however, a dramatist meets his Scylla and Charyb- 
dis. He yields to Scylla, if he does not write any such scene; 
to Charybdis, if he writes such a scene but does not advance 
his play by it — that is, if he merely marks time. In a recent 
play, whenever a time space was to be covered, a group of 
citizens talked. What they said was not uninteresting. The 
characters were well sketched in. But the scene did not 
advance the story at all. Bulwer-Lytton faced this difficulty 
in writing Money : 

I think in the first 3 acts you will find little to alter. But in 
Act 4 — the 2 scenes with Lady B. & Clara — and Joke & the 
Tradesman don't help on the Plot much — they were wanted, 
however, especially the last to give time for change of dress & 
smooth the lapse of the theme from money to dinner; you will 
see if this part requires any amendment. 1 

The principle here is this : Whatever is written to cover 
a time space, long or short, must help the movement of the 
play to its climax. It may be said that the fourth act of 
neither Macbeth nor Hamlet complies with this statement; 
but more careful thought will show that in each case the act 
is very important to the whole story. The title of each play, 

» Letters of Bulwer-Lytton to Macready, lxiii. Brander Matthews, ed. 



PROPORTION 137 

and present-day interest in its characterization rather than 
y , make us miss greatly the leading figure, wholly ab- 
I in the act. Therefore we hasten to declare, not recog- 
nizing that story was of first importance in Shakespeare's 
day, that because this act is not focused on Macbeth or 
Hamlet the act in question clogs the general movement. 

Otway, in Venice Preserved, handles passage of time ad- 
mirably. Toward the end of the first act, Pierre makes an ap- 
pointment with Jaffier to meet him that night on the Rial to 
a 1 1 welve. Exit Pierre. Immediately Belvidera enters to Jaf- 
fier. Their talk, only about four pages in length, is so pas- 
sionately pathetic that a hearer loses all accurate sense of 
time. There is an entr'acte, and then a scene between Pierre 
and Aquilina. Again it is brief, only three and a half pages, 
but it is dramatic, and complicates the story. Consequently, 
when Jaffier does meet Pierre on the Rialto, we are quite 
ready to believe that considerable time has passed and it is 
now twelve o'clock. Otway has used three devices to cover 
a time space: an absorbing emotional scene, an entr'acte, and 
a Cover Scene. 1 

All the methods just described have had to do with repre- 
senting time on stage. When time necessary for the telling 
of a story may be treated as passing off stage, other de- 
vices may be used. Most of them gather about a dropping of 
the curtain. Recently there has been much use of the cur- 
tain to denote, without change of set, the passing of some 
relatively brief time. When a group of people leave the stage 
for dinner, the curtain is dropped, to rise again as the group, 
returning from dinner, take up the action of the play. Just 
this occurs in Act I of Pinero's Iris. 2 Mr. Belasco, in The 
Woman, dropped the curtain at the beginning of a cross ex- 
amination, to raise it for the next act as the examination 

» Belles-Lettres Series. C. F. McClumpha, ed. D. C. Heath & Co., Boston and New York. 
* Walter H. Baker & Co., Boston; W. Heinemann, London. 



138 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

nears its climax. In The Silver Box> 1 dropping the curtain 
twice in Act I makes it possible to see the Barthwicks' din- 
ing-room "just after midnight," "at eight-thirty a.m.," and at 
"the breakfast hour of Mr. and Mrs. Barthwick." Such cur- 
tains, though justifiable, have one serious objection. They 
bring us back with a jolt from absorbed following of the play 
to the disturbing truth that we are not looking at life, but 
at life selectively presented under obvious limitations of the 
stage. Scene 1 of The Silver Box, which began "just after 
midnight," lasts only a few minutes; yet when the curtain 
"rises again at once," we are to understand that eight hours 
have elapsed. 

The simplest method of handling time off stage is to treat 
it as having elapsed between acts or on the dropping of a 
curtain within an act. 2 In how many, many plays — for in- 
stance, Sir Arthur Pinero's early Lady Bountiful — has the 
hero, in whatever length of time between the fourth and fifth 
acts the dramatist has preferred, become the regenerated 
figure of the last act! All that is needed in The Man Who 
Came Back, as produced, to change the dope-ridden, degen- 
erating youth into a firm character, even into a landed pro- 
prietor, is a sea voyage from San Francisco to Honolulu — 
and an entracte ! What takes place between acts is far too 
often — medicinally, morally, dare we say dramatically? — 
more significant than what we see. Yet why deride this 
refuge of the dramatist? Such use is merely an extension of 
what we permit any dramatist who, writing two plays en the 
same subject or person, implies or states that very many 
years have elapsed beween the two parts. No one seriously 
objects when thousands of years are supposed to elapse be- 
tween the Prometheus Bound and the Prometheus Unbound 
of iEschylus. 3 Surely, it is logical to treat spaces between 

* Plays. G. P. Putnam'8 Sons, New York. 

» Walter H. Baker & Co., Boston; W. Heinemann, London. 

» Everyman's Library. Plumptre, ed. 



PROPORTION 139 

acts like spaces between plays on related subjects. The 
trouble lies, not in the time supposed to have elapsed, but in 
the changes of character said to have taken place. As long 
as our drama was primarily story, and not, as it has come to 
be increasingly, a revealer of character, we were content, if 
each act contained a thrilling dramatic incident, to be told 
that this or that had happened between the acts. The early 
drama did this by the Dumb Show and the Chorus. 

ACT n 
PROLOGUE 

Flourish. Enter Chorus 

Chorus. Now all the youth of England are on fire, 
And silken dalliance in the wardrobe lies. 
Now thrive the armourers, and honour's thought 
Reigns solely in the breast of every man. 
They sell the pasture now to buy the horse, 
Following the mirror of all Christian kings, 
With winged heels, as English Mercuries. 
For now sits Expectation in the air, 
And hides a sword from hilts unto the point 
With crowns imperial, crowns, and coronets, 
Promis'd to Harry and his followers. 
The French, advis'd by good intelligence 
Of this most dreadful preparation, 
Shake in their fear, and with pale policy 
Seek to divert the English purposes. 
O England ! model to thy inward greatness, 
Like little body with a mighty heart, 
What mightst thou do, that honour would thee do, 
Were all thy children kind and natural! 
But see thy fault! France hath in thee found out 
A nest of hollow bosoms, which he fills 
With treacherous crowns; and three corrupted men, 
One, Richard Earl of Cambridge, and the second, 
Henry Lord Scroop of Masham, and the third, 
Sir Thomas Grey, knight, of Northumberland, 
Have, for the gilt of France, — O guilt indeed ! — 



140 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

Confirm'd conspiracy with fearful France; 

And by their hands this grace of kings must die, 

If hell and treason hold their promises, 

Ere he take ship for France, and in Southampton. 

Linger your patience on, and we'll digest 

The abuse of distance, force a play. 

The sum is paid; the traitors are agreed; 

The King is set from London; and the scene 

Is now transported, gentles, to Southampton. 

There is the playhouse now, there must you sit; 

And thence to France shall we convey you safe, 

And bring you back, charming the narrow seas 

To give you gentle pass; for, if we may, 

We '11 not offend one stomach with our play. 

But, till the King come forth, and not till then, 

Unto Southampton do we shift our scene. (Exit.) Henry V. 

As audiences, becoming more interested in characteriza- 
tion and less in mere story, grew to expect that each act 
would show the central figure growing out of the preceding 
act and into the next, they balked more and more at hear- 
ing of changes instead of seeing them. They insisted that 
the effective forces must work before their eyes. Hence the 
disappearance of Dumb Show and Chorus. With Lady 
Bountiful l the public did not object strongly to what was sup- 
posed to happen between the fourth and fifth acts, because 
it took the whole play as a mere story. But in Iris, when 
the author asked it to accept all the important stages in the 
moral breakdown of Iris as taking place between the fourth 
and fifth acts, there was considerable dissent. Contrast the 
greater satisfactoriness when an auditor can watch impor- 
tant changes, as he may with Sophy Fullgarney in the third 
act of the Gay Lord Quex, 2 or with Mrs. Dane in the fourth 
act of Mrs. Dane's Defence. To assume that a lapse of time 
stated to have passed in a just preceding entr'acte, and a 

1 Walter H. Baker & Co., Boston; W. Heinemann, London. 
* B. H. Russell & Co., New York. 



PROPORTION 141 

chancre of environment there, have produced marked differ- 
ence in character is not today enough. A dramatist may as- 
sume that only as much time has passed between acts as he 
makes entirely plausible by the happenings and character- 
ization of the next act. For any needed statement of what 
has happened since the close of a preceding act he must 
dej>end only on deft exposition within the act in question. 

Recent usage no longer insists that acts may not some- 
what overlap. " Toward the end of Act II of Eugene Walter's 
Paid in Fully Emma Brooks is disclosed making an appoint- 
ment with Captain Williams over a telephone. In the next 
act we are transferred to Captain Williams's quarters, and the 
dramatic clock has, in the meanwhile, been turned back some 
fifteen minutes, for presently the telephone bell rings, and 
the same appointment is made over again. In other words, 
Act II partly overlaps Act I in time, but the scene is dif- 
ferent." l There is a similar use in Under Cover. At the be- 
ginning of the last act, a group, sleepily at cards, is startled 
by the burglar alarm. The climax of the preceding act was 
that same alarm. 

The most difficult kind of off-stage time to treat comes not 
within or between the acts. It is the time before the play 
begins in which events took place which must be known as 
soon as the play opens, if auditors are to follow the play 
understandingly. Every dramatist, as he turns from his 
story to his plot, faces the problem : How plant in the mind 
of the audience past events and facts concerning the char- 
acters which are fundamental in understanding the play. 
The Chorus and the Dumb Show again were, among early 
dramatists, the clumsy solution of this problem. 

1 The Influence qf Local Theatrical Conditions upon the Drama qf the Greeks. R. C. Flick, 
inger. Classical Journal, October, 1911. 



142 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

THE PROLOGUE 

In Troy, there lies the scene. From isles of Greece 
The princes orgillous, their high blood chaf'd, 
Have to the port of Athens sent their ships, 
Fraught with the ministers and instruments 
Of cruel war. Sixty and nine, that wore 
Their crownets regal, from the Athenian bay 
Put forth toward Phrygia; and their vow is made 
To ransack Troy, within whose strong immures 
The ravish'd Helen, Menelaus' queen, 
With wanton Paris sleeps; and that's the quarrel. 
To Tenedos they come, 

And the deep-drawing barks do there disgorge 
Their warlike fraughtage. Now on Dardan plains 
The fresh and yet unbruised Greeks do pitch 
Their brave pavilions. Priam's six-gated city, 
Dardan, and Timbria, Helias, Chetas, Troien, 
And Antenorides, with massy staples 
And corresponsive and fulfilling bolts 
Spar up the sons of Troy. 
Now expectation, tickling skittish spirits, 
On one and other side, Troyan and Greek, 
Sets all on hazard; and hither am I come 
A prologue arm'd, but not in confidence 
Of author's pen or actor's voice, but suited 
In like conditions as our argument, 
To tell you, fair beholders, that our play 
Leaps o'er the vaunt and firstlings of those broils, 
Beginning in the middle, starting thence away 
To what may be digested in a play. 
Like or find fault; do as your pleasures are. 
Now good or bad; 'tis but the chance of war. 1 

A growing technique led the dramatists from Dumb Show 
and Chorus to soliloquy, in order to provide this necessary 
preliminary exposition. Is Richard, Duke of Gloucester, at 
the opening of Richard III, much more than a re-christened 
Chorus? 

1 Troiliu and Crania. 



PROPORTION 143 

ACT I. SCENE 1. (London. A street.) 

Enter Richard, Duke of Gloucester, solus 

Gloucester. Now is the winter of our discontent 
Made glorious summer by this sun of York; 
And all the clouds that lour'd upon our house 
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried. 
Now are our brows bound with victorious wreaths; 
Our bruised arms hung up for monuments; 
Our stern alarums chang'd to merry meetings, 
Our dreadful marches to delightful measures. 
Grim-visag'd War hath smooth'd his wrinkled front; 
And now, instead of mounting barbed steeds 
To fright the souls of fearful adversaries, 
He capers nimbly in a lady's chamber 
To the lascivious pleasing of a lute. 
But I, that am not shap'd for sportive tricks, 
Nor made to court an amorous looking-glass; 
I, that am rudely stamp'd, and want love's majesty 
To strut before a wanton ambling nymph; 
I, that am curtail'd of this fair proportion, 
Cheated of feature by dissembling nature, 
Deform'd, unfinish'd, sent before my time 
Into this breathing world, scarce half made up, 
And that so lamely and unfashionable 
That dogs bark at me as I halt by them; 
Why, I, in this weak piping time of peace, 
Have no delight to pass away the time, 
Unless to see my shadow in the sun 
And descant on mine own deformity. 
And therefore, since I cannot prove a lover 
To entertain these fair well-spoken days, 
I am determined to prove a villain 
And hate the idle pleasures of these days. 
Plots have I laid, inductions dangerous, 
By drunken prophecies, libels, and dreams, 
To set my brother Clarence and the King 
In deadly hate the one against the other; 
And if King Edward be as true and just 
As I am subtle, false, and treacherous, 



144 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

This day should Clarence closely be mew'd up 

About a prophecy, which says that G 

Of Edward's heirs the murderer shall be. 

Dive, thoughts, down to my soul; here Clarence comes. 

Led by Shakespeare, dramatists have come to understand 
that such information should, if in any way possible, be 
conveyed not by soliloquy but within the play itself. It 
should, too, be so incorporated with the text that it is ac- 
quired almost unconsciously by an auditor held absorbed by 
the immediate dramatic action. 

Sometimes, however, it is well-nigh impossible thus to in- 
corporate needed exposition with the dramatic action. For 
instance, a play depicted the fortunes of a Jacobite's daugh- 
ter. All that is dramatic in her story as a young woman is 
predetermined by terrible scenes attending the death of her 
father, when she was a child of six. Somehow the audience 
must be made to understand very early in the play what these 
scenes were which made a lasting, intense impression on the 
child. That the young woman, when twenty, should recall 
the scenes with such minuteness as to make the audience per- 
fectly understand their dramatic values is hardly plausible. 
To have some one come out of the past to reawaken the old 
memories is commonplace, and likely, by long descriptions 
to clog the movement of the act. Facing this problem, pres- 
ent-day dramatists, avoiding chorus, soliloquy, and lengthy 
description, have chosen to put such needed material into a 
division which, because it is preliminary, they have at will 
distinguished from the other acts as the Induction or more 
frequently the Prologue. The latter term is a confusing use. 
Historically, it signifies the single figure or group of figures 
who, before the curtain, bespeak the favor of the audience 
for the play to follow. Very rarely, the Prologue partook a 
little of the nature of Chorus, stating details that must be 
understood, were the play to have its full effect. Dramatists, 



PROPORTION 145 

feeling that the relation of this introductory division to the 
other divisions is not so close as are the inter-relations of the 
other divisions, have called this preliminary action, not 
Act /, but Prologue. A similar situation exists for what has 
been dubbed Epilogue. Historically, a figure from the play 
just ended, or an entirely new figure, strove, often in lines 
not written by the dramatist, to point the story or, at least, 
to win for it the final approval of the audience. Today, when 
a dramatist wishes to point the meaning of a play which he 
seems to have brought to a close, or to include it in some 
burger scheme, he writes what he prefers to call, not an ad- 
ditional act, but an Epilogue. 

A dramatist should be very careful that what he calls Pro- 
logue or Epilogue is not merely an additional act. An act 
does not cease to be an act, and become a prologue or an epi- 
logue, because its length is shorter than that usual for an act. 
True it is that most prologues and epilogues are short, but 
that is not their distinguishing characteristic. If they are 
brief, it is because the dramatist wants to move as quickly 
as possible from his induction or prologue to his main 
story, or knows that when the play proper is ended, he can- 
not with his epilogue hold his audience long. Not always, 
however, are prologues, or epilogues short. That of Ma- 
dame Sans Gene 1 has the same number of pages as Act II, 
seventeen. The Prologue of The Passing of the Third Floor 
Back 2 fills some sixty-two pages. The Epilogue of the same 
play covers fifty-six pages. An act in this play makes seventy- 
eight pages. In A Celebrated Case 3 the Prologue covers 
twenty-one pages; the subsequent acts run from eight to 
twelve pages each. 

Nor is an act changed into a prologue or epilogue because 
the space of time between it and the other divisions is 

1 Samuel French, New York. « Hurst & Blackett, Ltd., London. 

» Penn Publishing Co., Philadelphia. 



146 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

longer than between any two of them. Does an act cease to 
be an act and become a prologue or epilogue, when the 
space of time between it and the other acts is twenty-five 
years, or should it be thirty? The absurdity of making the 
use of the words Prologue or Epilogue depend upon the space 
of time between one division and another is evident. It is true 
that the Prologue of Madame Sans Gene takes place nine- 
teen years before the three acts which follow, but it concerns 
the same people. It might equally well be called Act I. 
The Passing of the Third Floor Back might just as correctly 
be announced as a play in three acts instead of "An idle 
fancy in a Prologue, a Play, and an Epilogue." Recently A 
Successful Calamity was stated to be in two acts, each pre- 
ceded by a Prologue. Except for the novel appearance of the 
statement in the program, it might more correctly have been 
called a play in four acts. Little except the will of the drama- 
tist settled that the last division of Pinero's Letty should be 
called an Epilogue. It occurs only two years and a half after 
the preceding act. It presents the same people. Similarly the. 
Prologue to Tennyson's Becket might just as well be called 
Act I, except that this nomenclature would give the play six 
acts. In the stage version by Henry Irving, the four acts and 
a Prologue might correctly be called five acts. 

The anonymous play, Tlie Taming of a Shrew, 1 on which 
Shakespeare founded his farce-comedy of similar title, 
shows a good use of Prologue and Epilogue. By a practical 
joke, Christopher Sly the beggar is made to believe he is a 
Lord. As a part of the joke, the play is acted before him. 
Now and again, in the course of it, he comments on it. He 
and his group finish the performance in a sort of Epilogue. 
When Shakespeare uses Sly, only to let him shortly withdraw 
for good, the arrangement seems curiously incomplete and un- 
satisfactory. Romance, by Edward Sheldon, shows right use 

1 Shakespeare's Library, vol. vi. W. C. Hazlitt, ed. Reeves & Turner, London. 



PROPORTION 147 

of so-called epilogue and prologue. As the curtain falls on 
the brief prologue, the aged Bishop is telling his grandson 
the story of his love for the Cavallini. Then the play, which 
is the Bishop's story, unrolls itself for three acts. In turn 
they fade into the epilogue, in which the grandson, as the 
Bishop finishes his story, goes off in spite of it to marry the 
girl he loves. By means of the epilogue and prologue Mr. 
Sheldon gains irony and contrast, relates the main play to 
larger values, and answers the inevitable question of his au- 
dience at the end of his third act : What happened to them 
afterward? Not to have used the so-called epilogue and 
prologue here would have forced total reconstruction of the 
material and probably a clumsier result. Such setting of a 
long play within a very brief play is one of the conditions for 
the legitimate use of the so-called prologue and epilogue. 

Another legitimate use, though perhaps not so clear-cut, is 
illustrated by the Prologue to A Celebrated Case. 1 The play 
might, perhaps, be written without it, but, if it were, the 
scene of Act I in which Adrienne recognizes the convict as 
her father, would be filled with much more exposition, and 
the present emphasis on the powerful emotions of the mo- 
ment would be somewhat blurred by the emotions called up 
by exposition of the past. Clearly, the play gains rather than 
loses by the presence of the prologue. Obviously the lat- 
ter stands somewhat apart from the three acts which follow, 
less definitely related to them than they are to one another. 
So it may, perhaps, better be called a prologue than 
an act. 

Of course, the distinction between prologue and act is a 
matter of nomenclature, not of effectiveness in acting. Look 
at My Lady's Dress, by Edward Knobloch. Scene 1, Act I, 
and Scene 3, Act III, have the same setting, a boudoir, and 
are more closely related to each other than to the rest of the 

1 Perm Publishing Co-, Philadelphia. 



148 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

play. 1 Indeed, what stands between are one-act plays mak- 
ing the dream of Anne. According to present usage, Mr. 
Knobloch could have called these scenes Prologue and Epi- 
logue, and treated all that stands between as the play proper. 
That he did or didn't makes no difference in the acting. The 
growing use of the two words, Prologue and Epilogue, 
merely marks an increasing sense of dramatic technique 
which tries by nomenclature to emphasize for a reader 
nice differences which the dramatist discerns in the inter- 
relations of his material. 

To sum up, there is real significance, though present confu- 
sion, in recent use of the words, Prologue and Epilogue. The 
use rests on a fact: that sometimes a play is best propor- 
tioned, when it has at the beginning or end, or both, a brief 
division related to the story and essential to it, but not so 
closely related to any act as are the acts to one another. The 
names Prologue and Epilogue should not, however, be used 
interchangeably for acts. They should be kept for their his- 
torical use — verse or prose spoken in front of the curtain 
before or at an end of the play, in order to win or intensify 
sympathy for it. We should find different names for these 
divisions, — perhaps, Induction and Finale? 

What should be the length of an act? There can be no 
rule as to this. Naturally, the work of the first and last 
acts differs somewhat from the intervening acts, whether one 
or three in number. While it is the chief business of the 
intervening acts to maintain and increase interest already 
created, the first act must obviously create that interest as 
swiftly as possible, and the last act bring that interest to 
a climactic close. The first act, because in it the characters 
must be introduced, necessary past history stated, and the 
story well started, is likely to be longer than the other,* acts. 
The last act, inasmuch as even at its beginning we are usu- 

* Drama League Series. Doubleday, Page & Co., New York. 



PROPORTION 149 

lily not distant from the climax of the play, is most often 
the shortest division, for as soon as the climax is reached, 
should drop the curtain as quickly as possible. A glance 
at certain notable plays of different periods will show, how- 
ever, that the length of an act most depends, not on any 
given rule, but on the skill of the dramatist in accomplishing 
what he has decided the particular act must do. In the Cam- 
bridge edition of Shakespeare's Lear (printed in two col- 
umns of fine type) the acts run as follows: 

Act 1 9i pages 

Actll 7 pages 

Act III 6i pages 

Act IV 6} pages 

Act V 5i pages 

Kismet, a play modeled on the Elizabethan, shows this 
division : 

Act 1 48 pages 

Act II 33 pages 

Act III 22* pages 

For three plays of Richard Steele it is possible to give the 
exact playing-time : " 

The Funeral The Conscious Lovers The Tender Husband 

Act 1 30 min. Act I . . . 33 min. Act I ... 25 min. 

Act II ... . 36 min. Act II . . 28 min. Act II . . 22 min. 

Act III . . . 20 min. Act III . 24 min. Act III . 14 min. 

Act IV . . . 20 min. Act IV. . 28 min. Act IV. . 15 min. 

Act V 20 min. Act V. . . 31 min. Act V. . . 18 min. 

Total, 2 hrs. 6 min. Total, 2 hrs. 24 min. Total, 1 hr. 34 min. 

Two recent plays divide thus: 

Candida The Silver Bote 

Act 1 27 pages Act 1 27 pages 

Act II 24 pages] Act II 27 pages 

Act III 21 pages Act III 21 pages 

» Life of Richard Steele, vol n, p. 868. G. Aitken. Wm. Isbister, London. 






150 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

The plays just cited are of very different lengths : Kismet l 
took nearly three hours in performance; Candida 2 and The 
Silver Box 3 are so short that they force a manager, if he is to 
provide an entertainment of the usual length, to a choice: 
he must begin his performance late, or allow long waits be- 
tween the acts, or give a one-act piece with the longer play. 
Yet it is noteworthy that in all these plays except Steele's, 
the first is as long as any other act, or longer, and the last 
act is the shortest. However, the only safe principle is that 
of Dumas pere already quoted: "First act clear, last act 
short, and everywhere interest." 

In proportioning the whole material into acts, it should be 
remembered, of course, that the time allowed for a theatrical 
performance ranges from two hours to two hours and three 
quarters. Five to fifteen minutes should be allowed for each 
entr'acte unless the usual waits are to be avoided by some 
mechanical device. Figure that a double-spaced type-writ- 
ten page takes in acting something more than a minute, 
though necessary dramatic pauses and "business" make it 
difficult to estimate exactly the playing time of any page. 
Speaking approximately, it may be said that a three-act play 
of one hundred and twenty typewritten pages will fill, with 
the entr'actes, at least two hours and a half. In apportioning 
the story into acts the first requisite is, then, that the total, 
even with the necessary waits between acts, shall not exceed 
the length of time during which the public will be attentive. 

The length of each act must in every case be determined 
by the work in the total which it has to do. Since pre-Shake- 
spearean days, the artistry of the act has been steadily 
developing. Until circa, 1595, what dramatists "strove to 
do was, not so to arrange their material that its inner rela- 
tions should be perfectly clear, but to narrate a series of 

1 Methuen & Co., Ltd., London. 

* Plays Pleasant and Unpleasant.. Brentano, New York. 

» Plays. G. P. Putnam's Sons, New York. 



PROPORTION 151 

events that did not, of necessity, possess such inner rela- 
tions. It is much to be doubted whether any thought of 
such relations ever entered their heads." ■ Influenced par- 
ticularly by Shakespeare, the drama from that time has 
steadily improved in knowledge of what each act should 
do in the sum total, and how it should be done. The act 
is "more than a convenience in time. It is imposed by the 
limited power of attention of the human mind, or by the 
need of the human body for occasional refreshment. A 
play with a well-marked, well-balanced act-structure is a 
higher artistic organism than a play with no act-structure, 
just as a vertebrate animal is higher than a mollusc. In 
every crisis of real life (unless it be so short as to be a mere 
incident) there is a rhythm of rise, progress, culmination, 
and solution. Each act ought to stimulate and temporarily 
satisfy an interest of its own, while definitely advancing 
the main action." 2 Each act, then, should be a unit of 
the whole, which accomplishes its own definite work. 

Here is Ibsen's rough apportioning of the work for each 
act in a play of which he was thinking. 

Do you not think of dramatising the story of Faste? It seems to 
me that there is the making of a very good popular play in it. Just 
listen ! 

Act 1. — Faste as the half-grown boy, eating the bread of char- 
ity and dreaming of greatness. 

Act 2. — Faste's struggle in the town. 

Act 3. — Faste's victory in the town. 

Act 4. — Faste's defeat and flight from the country. 

Act 5. — Faste's return as a victorious poet. He has found him- 
self. 

It is a fine adventurous career to depict dramatically. But of 
course you would have to get farther away from your story first. 

1 .1 Note on Act Division at practiced in the Early Elizabethan Drama. Bulletin of Western 
Reserve University. 
» Play-Making, p. 1S6. Win. Archer. Small, Maynard & Co., Boston. 



152 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

You perhaps think this a barbarous and inhuman suggestion. 
But all your stories have the making of a drama in them. 1 

In The Princess and the Butterfly, 2 Act I not only disposes 
of preliminary necessary exposition, but depicts different 
kinds of restlessness in a group of women at or nearing middle 
age. Act II does the same for a group of men, and in the 
proposed duel provides what later may be made to reveal to 
Sir George how much Fay Zuliani cares for him. Act III 
complicates the story by showing that Fay is not the niece of 
Sir George, and illustrates the growing affection between the 
Princess and Edward Oriel. Act IV reveals to Sir George and 
Fay how much each cares for the other. The fifth act shows 
how Sir George and the Princess, who have tried to be wise 
and restrained, impulsively and instinctively choose the path 
of seeming unwisdom but immediate happiness. 

In The Trail of the Torch, 3 Act I states the thesis of the 
play and offers the first great sacrifice by Sabine for her 
daughter, Marie-Jeanne. Sabine gives up Stangy in order to 
be with Marie-Jeanne, only to find that her daughter is in 
love with Didier. Act II illustrates that a mother will make 
every sacrifice for her children: Madame Fontenais, the 
grandmother, when her daughter Sabine begs her to sacri- 
fice her fortune in order that Marie-Jeanne's anxiety as to 
the finances of Didier may be set at rest, refuses, thinking 
to protect Sabine's future. In turn, Sabine, putting aside all 
pride, calls Stangy back to her, believing that he will give 
her the aid she desires for Marie-Jeanne. Act III shows f he 
extremes of sacrifice to which a mother may go, — here the 
forgery, and the sacrifice by Sabine of her mother to her 
daughter. Act IV illustrates the retribution for Sabine: the 
revelation by Stangy that, after Sabine sent him away, he 
married; Marie-Jeanne's announcement to her mother that 

1 Letters of Henrik Ibsen, p. 236 ; to Jonas Lie. 

1 Walter H. Baker & Co., Boston; W. Heinemann, London. 

* P. Hervieu. Drama League Series. Doubleday, Page & Co., New York. 



PROPORTION 153 

she is to go to America with her father and that Sabine can- 
not go; and the death of Madame Fontenais caused, at least 
indirectly, by Sabine. 

In all three cases we have only the baldest outline of what 
the act must do. The illustrative dramatic action by which 
each act is to accomplish its task is either in hand as part of 
a clearly defined story in the mind of the dramatist, or must 
be found immediately. Granted that it has been discovered 
(see chap. Ill, pp. 47-72), then as each act is shaped up from 
this material it should have certain qualities. It should be 
clear. It should lead the hearer on to the acts which follow: 
in other words, it should at least maintain an interest al- 
ready established, and in most cases should increase that 
interest. To put these requisites more briefly, each act 
should have clearness and movement. Movement in an act 
means that, while thoroughly interesting itself, the act leads 
a hearer on to its immediate successor and, above all, the 
finale. Good movement depends on clearness and right em- 
phasis. The emphasis in each act and in the whole play 
should be such that ultimately it accomplishes the purpose 
of the dramatist. How may these qualities, clearness, right 
emphasis, and consequent movement be gained? 



CHAPTER VI 

FROM SUBJECT TO PLOT: ARRANGEMENT FOR 
CLEARNESS, EMPHASIS, MOVEMENT 

The chief desideratum of a dramatist beginning to arrange 
his material within a number of acts already decided on is to 
create interest as promptly as possible. To that end neither 
striking dialogue nor stirring situation is of prime conse- 
quence. Clearness is. When an audience does not under- 
stand who the people are with whom the play opens and their 
relations to one another, no amount of striking dialogue or 
stirring situation will create lasting interest. The danger for 
a later public of allusive reference clear enough at one time 
is shown by the verses sung when the Helstone Furry, or 
Flower Dance, takes place in Cornwall. Lines once full of 
meaning are today so out of date as to be meaningless. 

From an early hour the place is alive with drums and fifes, and 
townsmen hoarsely chanting a ballad, the burden of which conveys 
the spirit of the festival: 

With Hal-an-tow, 

Jolly rumble O, 
And we are up as soon as any day O, 
And for to fetch the Summer home, 

The Summer and the May O; 
For the Summer is a-come O, 
And Winter is a-go O! 

The verses of the ballad seem to convey topical allusions that have 
become traditional. One speaks of Robin Hood and Little John 
as gone to the fair, and the revellers will go too; another triumphs 
in the Spaniards eating the gray goose feather while the singers will 
be eating the roast. Another runs thus quaintly: 



ARRANGEMENT 15J 

God bless Aunt Mary Moses 

With all her power and might O; 

And send us peace in merry England 
Both night and day O. 
With Hal-an-tow, 
Jolly rumble O, 

And we were up as soon as any day O, 

And for to fetch the Summer home, 
The Summer and the May 0; 

For the Summer is a-come O, 

And Winter is a-go O! 

Thus singing they troop through the town; if they find anyone at 
work, they hale him to the river and make him leap across; arrived 
at the Grammar School they demand a holiday; at noon they go 
"fadding" into the country, and come back with oak branches and 
flowers in their hats and caps; then until dusk they dance hand-in- 
hand down the streets, and through any house, in at any door, out 
at another; when night falls they keep up the dancing indoors. 
The character of the dancing is exactly that of the ancient Comus; 
and the whole spirit of the Cornish Furry is a fair representation of 
primitive nature festivals, except, of course, that modern devout- 
ness has banished from the flower dance all traces of a religious 
festival; — unless a trace is to be found in the fact that the dancers 
at one point make a collection. 1 

The Greek dramatist, staging religious legends, could as- 
sume in his audience common knowledge as to the identity 
and the historic background of his figures which saved him 
much exposition. Today, readers of his play demand explan- 
atory notes because of these omissions. 

The Choephori, like the plays of iEschylus generally, consists of 
scenes from a story taken as known. Some indispensable parts of it 
are represented only by allusions. Others can scarcely be said to be 
represented at all. The history of Py lades belongs to the second 
class; that of Strophius belongs to the first. What is evident is 
that the author presumes us to be familiar with his conception of 

1 Ancient Classical Drama, chap, vii, "Elements of Comedy." Moulton. Clarendon Press, 
Oxford. 



156 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

both, that as a fact we are not, and that our only way of approach- 
ing the play intelligently is by the assumption of some working 
hypothesis. 1 

Something like the position of these elder dramatists 
toward exposition is held today by writers of plays on George 
Washington or Abraham Lincoln. Dealing, as the dramatist 
ordinarily does, however, with a mixture of historical and 
fictitious figures or with characters wholly fictitious, he must 
in most cases carefully inform his audience at the outset who 
his people are, and what are their relations to one another, 
where the play is laid, and when. 

Examine the first column of what follows : it is not a bur- 
lesque, but the beginning of a so-called play. Why is it un- 
satisfactory? 

ORCHIDS 

Conservatory of the Strones' house. Natalie is walking about among 
the flowers and plants t arranging them for the day in the vases on 
the near-by table. 

Natalie. (To herself.) O-oh, Natalie. (To herself.) O-oh, 
I'm sleepy this morning. It's I'm sleepy this morning. It's 
very nice to have your fiance live very nice to have your fiance 
in the next house, but when he live in the next house, but when 
insists on writing his stories and (Tom) insists on writing his sto- 
things until two or three in the ries and things until two and 
morning — well, I don't think three in the morning — well, I 
it's very thoughtful of him. don't think it's very thought- 
He might realize that his light ful of him. He might realize 
shines directly across into my that his light shines directly 
eyes and keeps me awake. Oh, across into my eyes and keeps 
dear, Mary's been putting lilies- me awake. Oh, dear, (that 
of -the- valley in all the vases maid's) been putting lilies-of- 
again. I'll not have those every- the-valley in all the vases again, 
where when we've got orchids I'll not have those everywhere 
instead. Flowers don't need when we've got orchids instead. 

1 The "Choephori" of JEschylut. Introduction, p. xvi. A. W. Verral. The Macmillan Co, 
New York. 



ARRANGEMENT 



157 



fragrance anyway; they're just 
meant to be seen. (Dumping the 
wilted lilies in a basket by her 
side and arranging the newly-cut 
orchids in their place.) Tom [Who 
is Tom — brother or fiance?] 
1 makes a fuss when I have 
nothing but orchids, so I sup- 
pose Mary put the others about 
to calm him down. [Who is 
Mary, then: a maid, a sister, 
a girl friend, some one en- 
gaged to Tom?] Really I've 
got to speak to him about last 
night when he comes. The light 
is bad enough, but I won't 
have him firing his gun out of 
the window besides. It must 
have been at that horrid thin 
cat that's always clawing Hope- 
ful. [A cat, a dog, or a small 
sister?] I'm glad she [Hopeful 
or the thin cat?] was locked up 
indoors if Tom's going to act 
that way. Oh, dear, these are 
the wrong shears again. (Rings 
bell. Enter maid.) Mary, bring 
me the other shears — and 
Mary, where's Hopeful this 
morning; I haven't seen her? 

Mary. The kitten, Miss 
Strone? 

Natalie. Yes, of course. 

Mary. Why — why she hasn't 
been in this morning. (Starts 
away.) 

Natalie. Come back, Mary. 
Don't run off while I'm speak- 
ing to you. Haven't you seen 
her at all? 



Flowers don't need fragrance 
anyway; they're just meant to 
be seen. (Dumping the wilted 
lilies in a basket by her side and 
arranging the newly -cut orchids 
in their place.) 

Tom always makes a fuss when 
I have nothing but orchids, so 
I suppose Mary put the others 
about to calm him down. 



Really I 've got to speak to (Tom 
Hammond) about last night, 
when he comes. The light is bad 
enough, but I won't have bim 
firing his gun out of the win- 
dow besides. It must have been 
at that horrid thin cat that's 
always clawing Hopeful. 

I'm glad (Hopeful) 
was locked up indoors if Tom's 
going to act that way (with cats). 
Oh, dear, these are the wrong 
shears again. (Rings bell. Enter 
maid.) Mary, bring me the 
other shears — and Mary, 
where's Hopeful this morning; 
I haven't seen her? 

Mary. The kitten, Miss 
Strone? 

Natalie. Yes, of course. 

Mary. Why — why she hasn't 
been in this morning. (Starts 
away.) 

Natalie. Come back, Mary. 
Don't run off while I'm speak- 
ing to you. Haven't you seen 
her at all? 



158 



DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 



Mary. Well — yes, Miss 
Strone — that is Parkins [an- 
other maid, a butler, or a 
milkman?] found — I mean — 

Natalie. {Impatiently.) Well? 

Mary. The shots last night, 
Miss Strone — that is we think 
it was — although she was on 
the other side of the garden 
when Parkins came on her — 
and there's the wall and the al- 
ley between — still, Mr. Ham- 
mond was shooting out of the 
upper windows and — 

Natalie. (Quickly.) Has any- 
thing happened to Hopeful? 

Mary. Why — why, Par- 
kins — 



Mary. Well — yes, Miss 
Strone — that is (the butler) 
found — I mean — 

Natalie. (Impatiently.) Well? 

Mary. The shots last night, 
Miss Strone — that is we think 
it was — although she was on 
the other side of the wall when 
Parkins came on her — and 
there's the wall and the alley 
between — still, Mr. Hammond 
was shooting out of the upper 
windows and — 

Natalie. (Quickly.) Has any- 
thing happened to Hopeful? 

Mary. Why — why, Par- 
kins — 



(Enter Parkins.) 
Parkins. (Quietly.) I buried 
her all right just now, Miss 
Strone. (Louder.) Mr. Ham- 
mond. 

(Exit [sic] Mary and Par- 
kins, enter Tom Ham- 
mond.) 



(Enter Parkins.) 
Parkins. (Quietly.) I buried 
her all right just now, Miss 
Strone. (Louder.) (Mr. Ham- 
mond.) 

(Exeunt Mary and Parkins, 
enter Tom Hammond.) 



In the left-hand column practically every one in the cast 
is unidentified when first mentioned. That is, the text fails 
in the first essential of clearness: we do not for some time 
know who the people are and their relations to one another. 
The very slight changes in the right-hand column do away 
with this fault. 

Identify characters, then, as promptly as possible. Writ- 
ing, "John Paul Jones enters in full Admiral's uniform," a 
dramatist often runs on for some time before the text itself 
reveals the identity of the person who has entered. Except 
in so far as the costume or make-up presents a well-known 



ARRANGEMENT 159 

historical figure, or information carefully given before the 
figure enters may reveal identity, every newcomer is an en- 
tirely unknown person. He must promptly make clear who 
he is and his relation to the story. The following opening of 
a play shows another instance of the vagueness resulting 
when this identification is not well managed: 

ANNE — A PLAY IN TWO ACTS 
ACT I 

Evening of a June day. John Hathaway' s Study. Door at right 
and at left back. Heavy, old-fashioned library furnishings. Walls 
lined with shelves of books. General disorder of books to produce the 
effect of recent using. Large flat-topped desk with a double row of 
drawers stands at front, half way between center and right wall. Desk 
is covered with books and loose manuscript. Chair at left front. Stool 
in front of desk. Other chairs toward back. 

When the curtain rises, John Hathaway is seated at desk working. 
Anne enters at rigid, bangs the door, and stands with back to it. 

Anne. I hate Aunt Caroline. (She hurries forward to stand at op- 
posite side of desk.) Oh, I know what you will say — just preach and 
preach and call me "Anne" and tell me I must ask her pardon. — 
Why don't you begin? 

John. (Smiling.) Now, Anne! 

Anne. Yes, there's the "Anne." I know the rest without your 
going on: — "Aunt Caroline is a peculiar woman, but is most 
worthy. Her Puritanism keeps her from understanding your tem- 
perament, and you are too young to understand hers, — " and 
you'll go on preaching and smiling in that horrid way — you al- 
ways do — and you'll make me see how wrong I've been and how 
saintly Aunt Caroline is, and at last I'll slink out of the room like a 
good little pussy-cat to find Aunt Caroline and beg her pardon. But 
it won't do this time, for I begged her pardon before I lost my temper 
so that you couldn't send me back. — Oh, Duke, can't we send 
Aunt Caroline away, and just you and me live here always together. 
(She swings round the desk to sit on the stool at his side, her back to 
him. He turns a little in his chair, letting a handfaU on her shoulder.) 
When Dad died, he left me with you because next to me he loved 
you best in all the world. Hundreds and hundreds of times he told 



160 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

me that. — Tt would have been very nice, Duke, if Dad hadn't 
died, wouldn't it? 

John. Yes, Nan. 

Anne. In just that one thing God has not been quite fair to me. 
Aunt Caroline tries so hard to make me think I am wrong about 
it. — I know you think so too, but you never argue about it with 
me. I like you for that, Duke. You see, if Dad had lived, our king- 
dom would have been complete. Why! a kingdom's only half a 
kingdom without a king. 

John. That's true, — but there are still a few of us left. There's 
the Prime Minister, and the Countess, and the Slave, every one of 
them loyal to the Princess. Even the War Department is loyal — 
in warfare. Perhaps, who knows, some day from out a great foreign 
land a great king may come riding, and the Princess will place him 
beside her on the throne — and — live happily ever afterward. 

Anne. {Inattentively.) Perhaps. Duke, did you ever think that 
the Prime Minister was very fond of the Countess? 

John. Why, I have thought so at times. 

Anne. And did you ever think that perhaps the Prime Minister 
would like to marry the Countess? 

John. Why, yes, now you mention it, that also has occurred to 
me. 

Anne. Well, why doesn't he? 

John. Perhaps the Countess isn't willing. 

Who is this "Anne"? Wliat is her last name? Is she the 
niece of "Duke"? How could we learn from the text that 
"Duke" is John Hathaway? It is the stage direction which 
gives us that information. And what are we to do with this 
whole Burke's Peerage, — the Prime Minister, the Count- 
ess, the Slave? The author is depending for identification 
upon a list of dramatis persona? just preceding what has been 
quoted: 

Time, present day. 

Characters : 

Anne Chesterfield, "The Princess." 
John Hathaway, Anne's guardian, "The Duke." 
Caroline Hathaway, John's aunt, "Head of the War De- 
partment." 



ARRANGEMENT 161 

Doctor Stirling, a friend, "The Prime Minister." 
Katharine Bain, a friend, "The Countess." 
Tommy Bain, Katharine's young brother, "The Slave." 
Professor Heinrich Adler, "The Foreign Ambassador." 
James, a Servant. 

Cut out this list of characters; in the stage directions strike 
out "John Hathaway," substituting "A man"; strike out 
" Anne," substituting "A young woman." At once it is clear 
that the dialogue reveals nothing about these people, except 
that a young woman who speaks is a niece of "Aunt Caro- 
line." Yet these substitutions show what the scene looks like 
to a man entering the theatre without a program. When- 
ever such substitution of a type name for that of an individ- 
ual in the titles prefixed to the speeches leaves the speakers 
unidentified, it is time to re-phrase the material for greater 
clearness. 

Scenery and costume, of course, may show where the open- 
ing or later action of a play takes place. If these make clear 
the nationality of the speakers, or, at most, the province to 
which they belong, this is in many instances enough for any 
audience. In some cases, however, the nature of the plot is 
so dependent on the customs of a particular community that 
it is necessary or wise to make the text farther particularize 
any placing of the play by scenery or costumes. Simple in- 
teriors, too, are not always easily identifiable as of this or that 
province, or even country. If province or country at all de- 
termines the action of the piece, the text should help out the 
setting. One reason why the plays of Synge aroused bitter 
opposition was that some auditors believed them representa- 
tions of life anywhere in Ireland and not, as they were meant 
to be, pictures of the manners of Aran Islanders, a group 
so isolated as to retain much savagery. Also, if the text is 
clear as to place, suggestion may take the place of realism 
in the scenery, thus decreasing expense. The emphasis on 



162 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

place in the opening of The Rising of the Moon both permits 
scenery that merely suggests a quay and plants in the minds 
of hearers a setting essential to the whole development of 
the play: 

Scene: Side of a quay in a seaport town. Some posts and chains. 
A large barrel. Enter three policemen. Moonlight. 

Sergeant, who is older than the others, crosses the stage to right and 
looks down steps. The others put down a pastepot and unroll a bundle 
of placards. 

Policeman B. I think this would be a good place to put up a 
notice. {He points to a barrel.) 

Policeman X. Better ask him. {Calls to Sergeant.) Will this be 
a good place for a placard? {No answer.) 

Policeman B. Will we put up a notice here on the barrel? 

{No answer.) 

Sergeant. There's a flight of steps here that leads to the water. 
This is a place that should be minded well. If he got down here, his 
friends might have a boat to meet him; they might send it in here 
from outside. 

Policeman B. Would the barrel be a good place to put a notice up? 

Sergeant. It might; you can put it there. {They paste the notice up.) 

Sergeant, {Reading it.) Dark hair — dark eyes, smooth face, 
height five feet five — there 's not much to take hold of in that — 
It's a pity I had no chance of seeing him before he broke out of jail. 
They say he's a wonder, that it's he makes all the plans for the 
whole organization. There isn't another man in Ireland would 
have broken jail the way he did. He must have some friends among 
the jailers. 

Policeman B. A hundred pounds reward is little enough for the 
Government to offer for him. You may be sure any man in the force 
that takes him will get promotion. 

Sergeant. I '11 mind this place myself. I wouldn't wonder at all 
if he comes this way. He might come slipping along there {points 
to side of quay) and his friends might be waiting for him there {points 
down steps), and once he got away it's little chance we'd have of 
finding him; it's maybe under a load of kelp he'd be in a fishing 
boat, and not one to help a married man that wants it to the 
reward. 1 

1 The Rising of the Moon, Lady Gregory. Contemporary Dramatiitt. T. H. Dickinson, 
ed. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston. 



ARRANGEMENT 163 

The period in which the play is supposed to take place, if 
of importance to the action, needs careful statement. Helped 
out by sotting and costumes, the following shows that the 
play is taking place at the time of the French Revolution. 

At rise of curtain, drums are heard beating y trumpets sounding the 
charge in the distance. A report of a cannon as the curtain rises. 

Jennie. (R., going up to door C.) Did you hear that? It must be 
somewhere near the Rue d'Echelle now. 

Julie. (L. crossing to R.) My! I'm frightened to death. 
Marie. (Carrots — up C.) I only hope they won't come fighting 
down our street. 
Julie. (Kneeling.) Bless us and save us! 

Jennie. (UpC.) Down our street. What should they come here 
for? It's the Tuileries and the King they're after. 

(Going to window L.) 
First Neighbor and Omnes. (At back.) Of course they are. 
That's it. 

First Woman. (Up C.) I tell you they're at the Carrousel. 

(Report of cannon.) 
Marie. It will be a mercy if they don't smash every pane of glass 
in the shop. 
Julie. Well I shan't forget this 10th of August in a hurry. 

(At back a National Guard wounded in the leg supported by 
two other guards enters at L.,is taken into the druggist's 
shop. All the people move towards the shop.) 1 

Lapse of time between two acts, if important to the develop- 
ment of the plot, should also be clearly stated. Dramatists 
like to depend on the programs for such information, but 
they run the chance that many auditors will not see the 
printed note. Doubtless a program would give these words 
from the stage direction at the beginning of the fourth 
act of Hauptmann's Lonely Lives: "Time between 4 and 5 
p.m.," but the quick passage of time is so important a fact 
in the development of the plot that six or seven pages later 
there is the following dialogue: 

1 Mme. Sam Oine, Prologue, Scene 1. Sardou and Moreau. Samuel French, New York. 



164 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

Braun. (Looks at telegram.) It is the six o'clock train that Mr. 
Vockerat is coming by? What o'clock is it now? 

Mrs. Vockerat. Not half -past four yet. 

Braun. (After a moment of reflection.) Has there been no change 
in the course of the week? 

Mrs. Vockerat. (Shakes her head hopelessly.) None. 

Braun. Has she given no hint of any intention to go? 

In The Galloper, by Richard Harding Davis, what the au- 
dience hears will place the play in a hotel at Athens, even 
if the scenery does not: 

Before the curtain rises one hears a drum-and-fife corps playing a 
lively march, and the sound of people cheering. This comes from the 
rear and to the left, and continues after the curtain is up, dying away 
gradually as though the band, and the regiment with it, had passed and 
continued on up the street. 

Anstruther is discovered seated on the lower right-end corner of the 
table, with his right foot resting on the chair at that corner. He is read- 
ing the Paris "New York Herald" and smoking a cigarette. He is a 
young man of good manner and soldierly appearance. He wears gray 
whipcord riding breeches, tan riding boots, and Norfolk jacket of rough 
tweed. His slouch hat, with a white puggaree wrapped round it, lies 
on the table beside him. Griggs stands at the edge of the French window 
looking off left. In his hand he holds a notebook in which he takes 
notes. He is supposed to be watching the soldiers who are passing. 
He is a pompous little man of about forty with eyeglasses. He wears a 
khaki uniform similar to that of an officer of the British army, with the 
difference that the buttons are of bone. His left chest is covered with 
ribbons of war medals. Hewitt, a young man with a pointed beard and 
moustache, stands to the left of Griggs, also looking off left. He wears 
a khaki coat made like a Norfolk jacket, khaki riding breeches, and can- 
vas United States Army leggings and tan shoes. On the table are his 
slouch hat and the khaki-colored helmet of Griggs. 

Captain O'Mattey enters right. He is a dashing young Irishman, 
in the uniform of an officer of the Greek Army. He halts to right of 
Anstruther and salutes. 

Capt. O'Malley. Pardon, I am Captain O'Malley of the Foreign 
Legion. Am I addressing one of the foreign war correspondents? 

1 Lonely Lives, Act iv. The Dramatic Works of Gerhart Hauptmann, vol. m , p. 265. 
Ludwig Lewisohn, ed. B. W. Huebsch, New York. 



ARRANGEMENT 165 

('apt. Anstruther. Yes. 

Capt. % Medley. (Showing him a visiting card.) Pardon, is this 
your rani? 

(apt. Anstruther. (Reading card.) "Mr. Kirke Warren." No. 

Copt. O'Malley. Do you know if Mr. Warren is in this hotel? 

Capt. Anstruther. I couldn't tell you. We arrived in Athens 
only last night. 

Capt. O'Malley. (Saluting and moving of left.) I thank you. 

(He exits left.) ' 

But the dramatist prefaced this with a careful description 
of the setting. What has just been quoted shows that the 
dramatist risked no chance that what would probably iden- 
tify this setting, — "Greek letters of gilt" on the picture 
frames, and the distant view of the Acropolis, — might fail 
him. He added what has just been quoted. 

This scene shows the interior of the reading room in the Hotel 
Angleterre at Athens. It is large , cheerful-looking, and sunny , with 
a high ceiling. Extending nearly across the entire width of the rear 
wall is a French window, which opens upon the garden of the hotel. 
Outside it are set plants in green tubs, and above it is stretched a striped 
green-and-white awning. To the reading room the principal entrance 
is through a wide door set well down in the left wall. It is supposed to 
open into the hall of the hotel. Through this door one obtains a glimpse 
of the hall, where steamer trunks and hatboxes are piled high upon a 
black-and-white tiled floor. In the right wall there is another door, also 
well down on the stage. It is supposed to open into a corridor of the 
hotel. Below it against the wall are a writing desk and chair. A simi- 
lar writing desk is placed against the rear wall between the right wall 
and the French window. On the left of the stage, end-on to the audience, 
is a long library table over which is spread a dark-green baize cloth. On 
top of it are ranged periodicals and the illustrated papers of different 
eountries. Chairs of bent wood are ranged around this table, one being 
placed at each side of the lower end. Of these two, the chair to the left 
of the table is not farther from the left door than five feet. The walls of 
the room are colored a light, cool gray in distemper, with a black oak 
wainscot about four feet high. On the walls are hung photographs of 

» Farce; "The Galloper," Act 1. Richard Harding Davis. Copyright, 1906, by Qua, 
Scribner's Sons, New York. 



166 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

the Acropolis and of classic Greek statues. On the black frames hold- 
ing these photographs appear the names of shopkeepers in Greek letters 
of gilt. The floor is covered with a gray crash. The back drop, seen 
through the French window, shows the garden of the hotel, beyond that 
the trees of a public park, and high in the air the Acropolis. The light 
is thai of a bright morning in May. 

The test in deciding whether the place and the time should 
be stated is not, "Has it been given in the program? " nor, 
"May it with ingenuity be guessed from the settings and 
costumes?" but, first, "Does place or time, or do both at 
all determine the action of the piece?" secondly, "Will any 
intelligent observer be vague as to place or time, as the play 
develops?" If the answer to either of these questions is yes, 
it is wisest to make these matters clear in the text. 

Far more troublesome than merely identifying the char- 
acters or emphasizing the place and time of the play is show- 
ing the relations of the characters to one another. This usu- 
ally requires exposition of past history which must be clearly 
understood if the play is to have its full emotional effect. 
More than one reader has been disposed to believe the theory 
that Macbeth, as we know it, is a cut stage version because, 
when Lady Macbeth first enters, she seems less prepared for 
and less clearly related to the other figures than is Shake- 
speare's custom. 

SCENE 5. Inverness. MacbetKs castle 
Enter Lady Macbeth, alone, with a letter 

Lady Macbeth. (Reads.) "They met me in the day of success; 
and I have learn'd by the perfect'st report, they have more in them 
than mortal knowledge. When I burn'd in desire to question them 
further, they made themselves air, into which they vanish'd. 
Whiles I stood rapt in the wonder of it, came missives from the 
King, who all-hail'd me, 'Thane of Cawdor'; by which title, be- 
fore, these weird sisters saluted me, and referr'd me to the coming 
on of time, with 'Hail, King thou shalt be!' This I have thought 



ARRANGEMENT 167 

goo! to deliver thee, my dearest partner of greatness, that thou 
tst not lose the dues of rejoicing, by being ignorant of what 

Bi atness is promis'd thee. Lay it to thy heart, and farewell." 

Glarnis thou art, and Cawdor; and shalt be 

What thou art promis'd. Yet do I fear thy nature; 

It i^ too full o' the milk of human kindness 

.itch the nearest way. Thou wouldst be great, 

Art not without ambition, but without 

The illness should attend it. What thou wouldst highly, 

That wouldst thou holily; wouldst not play false, 

vet wouldst wrongly win. Thou'dst have, great Glamis, 

That which cries, "Thus thou must do, if thou have it"; 

And that which rather thou dost fear to do 

Than wishest should be undone. Hie thee hither 

That I may pour my spirits in thine ear, 

And chastise with the valour of my tongue 

All that impedes thee from the golden round 

Which fate and metaphysical aid doth seem 

To have thee crown'd withal. 

The Dumb Show, Chorus, and Soliloquy are now out- 
worn devices for setting forth necessary initial expository 
facts. Today any experienced dramatist knows that such 
preliminary exposition demands the art which conceals art, 
for an audience resents a mere recital of necessary facts. 
Examine the first act of Schnitzler's The Lonely Way. 1 All of 
it is interesting for characterization and statement of facts 
essential to an understanding of the play, but it does not 
grip the attention as do the other acts where drama, not ex- 
position, is of first consequence. 

Early steps in advance on the Chorus were the butler and 
the maid servant, garrulously talking of what each must 
have known ever since he came into his position. A closely 
related form is unbosoming oneself to a male or female con- 
fidant. 

> The Lonely Way, etc. Three Playt by Arthur SchnitzUr. Translated by E. Bjorkman. 
Mitchell Kenoerley. 



168 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

ACT I 

(Enter Hippolytus, Tkeramenes.) 

Hippolytus. My mind is settled, dear Theramenes, 
And I can stay not more in lovely Troezen. 
In doubt that racks my soul with mortal anguish, 
I grow ashamed of such long idleness. 
Six months and more my father has been gone, 
And what may have befallen one so dear 
I know not, nor what corner of the earth 
Hides him. 

Theramenes. And where, prince, will you look for him? 
Already, to content your just alarm, 
Have I not cross'd the seas on either side 
Of Corinth, ask'd if aught were known of Theseus 
Where Acheron is lost among the Shades, 
Visited El is, doubled Toenarus, 
And sail'd into the sea that saw the fall 
Of Icarus? Inspired with what new hope, 
Under what favor'd skies think you to trace 
His footsteps? Who knows if the king, your father, 
Wishes the secret of his absence known? 
Perchance, while we are trembling for his life, 
The hero calmly plots some fresh intrigue, 
And only waits till the deluded fair — 

Hippolytus. Cease, dear Theramenes, respect the name 
Of Theseus. Youthful errors have been left 
Behind, and no unworthy obstacle 
Detains him. Phaedra long has fix'd a heart 
Inconstant once, nor need she fear a rival. 
In seeking him I shall but do my duty, 
And leave a place I dare no longer see. 

Theramenes. Indeed! When, prince, did you begin to dread 
These peaceful haunts, so dear to happy childhood, 
Where I have seen you oft prefer to stay, 
Rather than meet the tumult and the pomp 
Of Athens and the court? What danger shun you, 
Or shall I say what grief? 

Hippolytus. That happy time 
Is gone, and all is changed, since to these shores 



ARRANGEMENT 169 

The u-xls sent Phaedra. 

Therametws. I perceive the cause 
Of your distress. It is the queen whose sight 

Is you. With a step-dame's spite she schemed 
Your exile soon as she set eyes on you. 
Hut if her hatred is not wholly vanish'd, 
It has at least taken a milder aspect. 
Besides, what danger can a dying woman, 
One too who longs for death, bring on your head? 
Can Phiedra, sick'ning of a dire disease 
Of which she will not speak, weary of life 
And of herself, form any plots against you? 

Hippolytus. It is not her vain enmity I fear; 
Another foe alarms Hippolytus. 
I fly, it must be owned, from Aricia, 
The soul survivor of an impious race. 

Theramenes. What! You become her persecutor too ! 
The gentle sister of the cruel sons 
Of Pallas shared not in their perfidy; 
Why should you hate such charming innocence? 

llnpolytus. I should not need to fly, if it were hatred. 

Theramenes. May I, then, learn the meaning of your flight? * 

Another device is an intensely inquisitive stranger just 
returned from foreign parts who listens with patience not 
always shared by an auditor to any needed preliminary ex- 
position. 

The Opportunity, 2 by James Shirley, shows an ingenious 
adaptation of the device of the inquisitive stranger newly 
come to some city. Aurelio, a gentleman of Milan, coming 
to Urbino with his friend Pisauro, is mistaken for Borgia, 
who has been banished from Urbino. As one person after 
another, greeting Aurelio as Borgia, naturally talks to him of 
his past, his family, and w T hat is to be expected of him now 
that he is returned, they identify and relate clearly to one 
another the chief people whom Aurelio is to meet in the play. 

1 Phadra, Act i. Racine. Translated by R. B. Boswell. Chief European Dramatists. 
Houjfhton Mifflin Co., Boston. 
* Works, vol. S. W. Gifford and Dycc. Murray, London. 



170 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

A hearer would take in almost unconsciously the needed ex- 
position, so amused would he be at the increasing bewilder- 
ment of Aurelio. 

Such ways and means as these three — the servant, the 
confidant, the stranger — Buckingham ridiculed in the late 
seventeenth century in his Rehearsal : 

Enter Gentleman-Usher and Physician 

Physician. Sir, by your habit, I should guess you to be the Gen- 
tleman-Usher of this sumptuous palace. 

Usher. And by your gait and fashion, I should almost suspect 
you rule the healths of both our noble Kings, under the notion of 
Physician. 

Physician. You hit my function right. 

Usher. And you mine. 

Physician. Then let's embrace. 

Usher. Come. 

Physician. Come. 

Johnson. Pray, sir, who are those so very civil persons? 

Bayes. Why, sir, the Gentleman-Usher and Physician of the two 
Kings of Brentford. 

Johnson. But, pray, then, how comes it to pass that they know 
one another no better? 

Bayes. Phoo! that's for the better carrying on of the plot. 1 

Another method, talking back to people off stage, as 
one enters, in such a way as to bring out necessary facts., 
Terence both used and ridiculed centuries ago. This is his 
use of the device: 

Enter My sis 

My sis. {Speaking to the housekeeper within.) I hear, Archilis, I 
hear: Your orders are to fetch Lesbia. On my word she's a drunken 
reckless creature, not at all a fit person to take charge of a woman 
in her first labour: am I to fetch her all the same? {Comes forward. Y 

1 The Rehearsal, Act i. The Duke of Buckingham. Bell's British Theatre, vol. xv. Lon- 
don, 1780. 

* The Lady of Andros, Act i. Terence. Translated by J. Sargeaunt. The Macmillan Co, 
New York; W. Heinemann, London. 



ARRANGEMENT 171 

In the last lines of the following he ridicules this very use: 
Re-enter Lesbia 

Lesbia. (Speaking through the doorway.) So far, Archilis, the 
usual and proper symptoms for a safe delivery, I see them all here. 
After ablution give her the drink I ordered and in the prescribed 
quantity. I shall be back before long. {Turning round.) Lor' me, 
but a strapping boy is born to Pamphilus. Heaven grant it live, 
for the father's a noble gentleman and has shrunk from wronging 
an excellent young lady. (Exit.) 

Simo. For example now, wouldn't any one who knew you think 
you were at the bottom of this? 

Davus. Of what, sir? 

Simo. Instead of prescribing at the bedside what must be done 
for the mother, out she plumps and shouts it at them from the 
street. 1 

Lately the telephone, the stenographer, and most re- 
cently the dictaphone have seemed to puzzled dramatists the 
swift road to successful initial exposition. To all these hu- 
man or unhuman aids some overburdened soul has felt free 
to say anything the audience might need to hear. Probably 
this use of the telephone has come to stay, for daily there is 
proof that nothing is too intimate for it. There are, how- 
ever, more ambitious workers who, weary of servants, con- 
fidants, telephones, stenographers, and dictaphones, want to 
set forth necessary information so naturally that no one may 
question whether it might have come out in this way. Also, 
they want the information to be so interestingly conveyed 
that an auditor thinks of what is happening rather than 
merely of the facts. 

In the first act of The Second Mrs. Tanqueray, 2 the audience 
must hear a narrative setting forth Aubrey Tanqueray's 
position in society, his first marriage, his relations with his 
daughter, and the nature of his proposed second marriage. 
What complicates the task is that the narrative must be 

1 The LtSv of Androt, Act in. 

1 Walter il. Baker & Co., Boston; W. Ueinemann, London. 



172 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

told to old friends, so that much of it is to them well known. 
What device will make the narrative, under the circum- 
stances, plausible? Here is where a modern dramatist sighs 
for the serviceable heralds, messengers, and chorus of plays 
of decades long past or for the freer methods in narrative of 
the novelist. How easy to tell much of this in your own per- 
son, as have Thackeray or Meredith, in comparison with 
stating it through another so placed that he will be glad to 
hear again much which he already knows! The necessity 
creates with Sir Arthur the device of the little supper party 
in Aubrey Tanqueray's chambers in the Albany, to which he 
has invited four of his oldest friends. The moment chosen 
for the opening of the play is when the old friends, over the 
coffee, fall quite naturally into reminiscent vein. What helps 
to freer exposition is their chance to talk of Cayley Drummle, 
who, even yet, though bidden, has not appeared. Before the 
chat is over and Cayley enters, much needed information is 
in the minds of the audience. Cayley brings news of a ter- 
rible mesalliance in a family known to all the supper party. 
In his efforts to advise and comfort the distracted mother he 
has been kept from the meeting of old friends. The news 
leads Aubrey Tanqueray to avow his quixotic scheme for a 
second marriage. Through the contrasting comments of the 
friends, even through their reservations, the audience be- 
comes perfectly informed as to the view the world will take 
of this second marriage. Indeed, as the supper party breaks 
up, all the audience requires in order to listen intelligently 
to the succeeding acts, is a chance to see Paula herself. Her 
impulsive visit to Tanqueray, just after the supper party 
ends, provides the information needed, for in it her character 
is sketched in broadly as it will be filled out in detail in the 
succeeding acts. Evidently device, the ingenious discovery 
of a plausible reason for exposition necessary in a play, is 
basal in the best stage narrative. Without it, character is 



ARRANGEMENT 173 

ificed to mere necessary exposition; with it, the specta- 
tor, absorbed by incident or characterization, learns uncon- 
usly that without which he cannot intelligently and 
>y in pathetically follow the story of the play. In other words, 
successful discovery of devices for such exposition clearly 
means that disguising which is essential to the best narrative 
in drama. 

The first quality of good expository device is clearness. 
Secondly, it should be an adequate reason for the exposition it 
contains : i.e., it must seem natural that the facts should come 
out in this way. Thirdly, and of the utmost importance, the 
device must be something so interesting in itself as to hold 
the attention of an auditor while necessary facts are insinu- 
ated into his mind. Lastly, the device should permit this 
preliminary exposition to be given swiftly. It is hard to con- 
ceal exposition as such if the movement is as slow as in the 
first two scenes of Act I of The Journey of Papa Perrichon. 

ACT I 

* The Lyons railway station at Paris. At the back, a turnstile open* 
ing on the waiting-rooms. At the back, right, a ticket window. At the 
back, left, benches, a cake vender; at the left, a book stall. 

SCENE 1. Majorin, A Railway Official, Travelers, Porters 

Majorin. (Walking about impatiently.) Still this Perrichon doesn't 
come! Already I've waited an hour. . . . Certainly it is today 
that he is to set out for Switzerland with his wife and daughter. 
(Bitterly.) Carriage builders who go to Switzerland! Carriage 
builders who have forty thousand pounds a year income! Carriage 
builders who keep their carriages! What times these are! While I, 
— I am earning two thousand four hundred francs ... a clerk, 
hard-working, intelligent, always bent over his desk. . . . Today I 
asked for leave ... I said it was my day for guard duty. ... It is 
absolutely necessary that I see Perrichon before his departure. . . . 
I want to ask him to advance me my quarter's salary. . . . Six hun- 
dred francs! He is going to put on his patronizing air . . . make him- 
self important ... a carriage builder! It's a shame! Still h« 



174 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

doesn't come! One would say that he did it on purpose! (Address- 
ing a porter who passes, followed by travelers.) Monsieur, at what 
time does the train start for Lyons? 

Porter. (Brusquely.) Ask the official. (He goes out at the left.) 

Majorin. Thanks . . . clodhopper! (Addressing the official who 
is near the ticket window.) Monsieur, at what time does the through 
train start for Lyons? 

The Official. (Brusquely.) That doesn't concern me! Look at the 
poster. (He points to a poster in the left wings.) 

Majorin. Thanks. . . . (Aside.) The politeness of these corpora- 
tions! If ever you come to my office, you . . . ! Let's have a look 
at the poster. . . . (He goes out at the left.) 

SCENE 2. The Official, Perrichon, Madame Perrichon, Henriette 

(They enter at the right) 

Perrichon. Here we are! Let's keep together! We couldn't find 
each other again. . . . Where is our baggage? (Looking to the right; 
into the wings.) Ah, that's all right! Who has the umbrellas? 

Henriette. I, papa. 

Perrichon. And the carpet bag? The cloaks? 

Madame Perrichon. Here they are! 

Perrichon. And my panama? It has been left in the cab! (Mak- 
ing a movement to rush out and checking himself.) Ah! No! I have 
it in my hand! . . . Phew, but I'm hot! 

Madame Perrichon. It is your own fault! . . . You hurried us, 
you hustled us! ... I don't like to travel like that! 

Perrichon. It is the departure which is tiresome . . . once we 
are settled! . . . Stay here, I am going to get the tickets. . . . 
(Giving his hat to Henriette.) There, keep my panama for me. . . . 
(At the ticket window.) Three, first class, for Lyons ! . . . 

The Official. (Brusquely.) Not open yet! In a quarter of an hour! 

Perrichon. (To the official.) Ah! pardon me! It is the first tijae 
I have traveled. . . . (Returning to his wife.) We are early. 

Madame Perrichon. There! When I told you we should have 
time. You wouldn't let us breakfast! 

Perrichon. It is better to be early! . . . one can look about the 
station! (To Henriette.) Well, little daughter, are you satisfied? . . . 
Here we are, about to set out! ... A few minutes yet, and then, 
swift as the arrow of William Tell, we rush toward the Alps! (To 
his wife.) You brought the opera glasses? 



ARRANGEMENT 175 

Madame Perrichon. Of course! 

Henriette. (To her father.) I'm not criticizing, papa, but it is 
now two years, at least, since you promised us this trip. 

Perrichon. My daughter, I had to sell my business. ... A mer- 
chant does not retire from business as easily as his little daughter 
<s boarding school. . . . Besides, I was waiting for your educa- 
tion to be ended in order to complete it by revealing to you the 
splendid spectacle of nature! 

Madame Perrichon. Are you going on in that strain? 

Perrichon. What do you mean? 

Madame Perrichon. Phrase-making in a railway station! 

Perrichon. I am not making phrases. . . . I'm improving the 
child's mind. (Drawing a little notebook from his pocket.) Here, my 
daughter, is a notebook I've bought for you. 

Henriette. For what purpose? 

Perrichon. To write on one side the expenses, and on the other 
the impressions. 

Henriette. What impressions? 

Perrichon. Our impressions of the trip! You shall write, and I 
will dictate. 

Madame Perrichon. What! You are now going to become an 
author? •"•* 

Perrichon. There's no question of my becoming an author . . . 
but it seems to me that a man of the world can have some thoughts 
and record them in a notebook! 

Madame Perrichon. That will be fine, indeed! 

Perrichon. (Aside.) She is like that every time she doesn't take 
her coffee! 

A Porter. (Pushing a little cart loaded with baggage.) Monsieur, 
here is your baggage. Do you wish to have it checked? 

Perrichon. Certainly! But first, I am going to count them . . . 
because, when one knows the number . . . One, two, three, four, 
five, six, my wife, seven, my daughter, eight, and for myself, nine. 
We are nine. 

Porter. Put it up there! 

Perrichon. (Hurrying toward the back.) Hurry! 

Porter. Not that way, this way! (He points to the left.) 

Perrichon. All right! (To the women.) Wait for me there! We 
mustn't get lost! (He goes out running, following the porter.) 1 

» Thidtre Compld, rol. u. Calmann L6vy, Pari*. 



176 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

The first scene undoubtedly helps to create the atmosphere 
of a large railway station, but everything in it could be 
brought out in what is now Scene 2. Even the way in which 
Majorin is passed from one employee to the other could be 
transferred to Perrichon. Every fact in Majorin's soliloquy 
is either repeated in the scenes which follow, or could easily 
be brought out in them. 

What has made necessary this swifter preliminary exposi- 
tion is, probably, the growing popularity of three or four acts 
as compared with five. Less space has forced a swifter move- 
ment. Contrast, in the five-act piece Une Chaine l by Scribe, 
the slow exposition in a first act of thirty-two pages with the 
perfectly adequate re-statement in six and a half pages in the 
one-act adaptation by Sidney Grundy, In Honour Bound. 2 

It is easy, however, to overload a first act with what seems 
needed exposition but is not. Careful consideration may 
show that some part may be postponed for "later exposi- 
tion." Here is the history which lies behind Act I of Suder- 
mann's Heimat, or Magda. 3 The famous singer, Dall'Orto, 
who was Magda Schwartze, has returned to her native place 
for a music festival. Ten years before she was driven from 
home by her father, an army officer, because she would not 
marry the man of his choice, Pastor Hefferdingt. Going to 
Berlin to train her voice, she was betrayed by young von 
Keller, a former acquaintance. After six months he de- 
serted her. A child was born to whom she is passionately de- 
voted. Von Keller is now a much respected citizen of the 
home town, who lives in awe of public opinion. He and 
Magda have not met since their Berlin days and he does not 
know there was a child. Since his return to the town he has 
kept away from the Schwartzes. Hefferdingt has remained 
single, devoting himself to good works. Magda's father 

* ThSdlre, vol. n. Michel Levy freres, Paris. • Walter H. Baker & Co., Boston. 

* Magda, translated by A. E. A. Winslow. Lamson, Wolffe & Co., Boston. 



ARRANGEMENT 177 

ly lost his mind from an apoplectic shock when lie 
learned of her flight, but he has won back some part of his 
health through the wise and tender aid of Hefferdingt. There 
has been no communication between Magda and her family 
in the ten years. Now the younger sister Marie is engaged to 
the nephew of von Keller, Max, but the young people have 
not enough money to marry. They have been hoping that 
an aunt, Franziska, who caused Magda much unhappiness in 
the old days, will aid them. The narrow life of the town and 
the subservience of the Schwartzes to it had much to do 
with the rebelliousness of Magda as a girl. Through hard 
work and much bitter experience, she has won a supreme 
place in the world of music. She has developed a somewhat 
cynical philosophy of life which calls for complete self- 
expression, at any cost to others. She craves sight of her fam- 
ily again, and especially of Marie, a mere child when Magda 
left home. 

Somewhere in the course of the play an audience must 
learn all these facts. How many of them must be set forth in 
Act I, and how many may be set apart for " later exposition"? 
Sudermann decided to postpone till Act II any detailed 
statement of the past relations between Magda and Heffer- 
dingt. In Act I we learn only that he wished to marry Magda, 
and that there is anger in the family because of the way in 
which she refused him. What that was is not stated. Thus 
by giving mystery to these past relations of Magda and 
Hefferdingt, curiosity and interest are aroused and suspense 
created. 

Of Magda's relations with von Keller we really learn 
nothing in Act I. We are, it is true, made to suspect that his 
admitted meeting with her in Berlin covers more than he is 
willing to reveal, and that his avoidance of the Schwartzes 
means something, but we learn nothing clearly until Act III. 
Not till then do we know a child was born and is still alive. 



178 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

In other words, postponing detailed exposition of these mat- 
ters provides the most important scene of Act II, that of 
Hefferdingt and Magda, and the central scene of Act III 
between von Keller and Magda. Note that deciding what 
shall be preliminary and what later exposition has much to 
do here, as always, with creating Suspense, a subject which 
will be treated under Movement. A difficult task for the 
dramatist is this determining what in the historical back- 
ground of his play must be treated as preliminary exposition, 
and what may be postponed for later treatment, when the 
real action of the play is well under way. 

Even when it is clear just what must go into preliminary 
exposition the ordering of the details chosen is very impor- 
tant. Look again at Magda, It is love for Marie which, in 
large part, draws Magda to her home, and at first keeps her 
there. The love affair which Magda fled from seemed to her 
conventional. Sudermann opens his play, therefore, with a 
picture of the thoroughly conventional engagement of Max 
and Marie, but remembering that the sooner a dramatist 
creates interest the better, he starts with the mysterious 
bouquet, far too expensive if sent by Max to Marie and 
wholly unacceptable if sent by any one else. When Max, 
entering, says that the flowers are not from him, there is 
a chance to emphasize two points of importance : the lovers' 
lack of money, and their fear of gossip. Meantime the fact 
has been planted that there is a music festival in the town. 
As the two young people talk of their need and the people 
who might help them, we learn that the father thinks Magda's 
departure was for some reason a "blot" on the family, and 
that Hefferdingt wished to marry her. The call of von Keller 
shows that since his return home he has been distant toward 
the Schwartzes; that he is afraid of public opinion; and that 
he met Magda in Berlin, "but only for a moment, on the 
street." With the entrance of the father and mother we have 



ARRANGEMENT 179 

the potty social ambitions of the latter, and the tyrannical 
attitude of the former toward his family. The scene with 
(debs and Beckmann not only illustrates social condi- 
tions in the town, but begins to connect Dall'Orto with the 
1( ftt daughter by showing the extraordinary interest of Heffer- 
dingt in meeting the singer. The coming of Aunt Franziska 
with her announcement that the Dall'Orto is Magdaends the 
preliminary exposition, for with the arrival of Hefferdingt 
and his effort to bring Magda home, the real action of the 
play begins. Obviously much thought and care have gone 
into the re-ordering of these details, so that the facts which 
must be first understood are stated first and so that there 
shall be growing interest through the creation of more and 
more suspense. 

In one of the early drafts of Rosmersholm y the opening 
page ran as follows. Note that there is no mention of any 
"white horses." 

(Mrs. Rosmer is standing by the farthest window, arranging the 
floicers. Madam Helset enters from the right with a basket of table 
linen.) 

Madam Helset. I suppose I had better begin to lay the tea-table, 
ma'am? 

Mrs. Rosmer. Yes, please do. He must soon be in now. 

Madam Helset. (Laying the cloth.) No, he won't come just yet; 
for I saw him from the kitchen — 

Mrs. Rosmer. Yes, yes — 

Madam Helset. — on the other side of the millpond. At firtft 
he was going straight across the foot-bridge; but then he turner' 
back — 

Jfrt. Rosmer. Did he? 

Madam Helset. Yes, and then he went all the way round. Ah, 
it's strange about such places. A place where a thing like that has 
happened — there — . It stays there; it isn't forgotten so soon. 

Jfrt. Rosmer. No, it is not forgotten. 

Madam Helset. No, indeed it isn't. ( Goes out to the right.) 

Mrs. Rosmer. (At the window, looking out.) Forget. Forget, ah! 



180 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

Madam Helset. (In the doorway.) I've just seen the rector, 
ma'am. He's coming here. 

Mrs. Rosmer. Are you sure of that? 

Madam Helset. Yes, he went across the millpond. 

Mrs. Rosmer. And my husband is not at home. 

Madam Helset. The tea is ready as soon as you want it. 

Mrs. Rosmer. But wait; we can't tell whether he'll stay. 

Madam Helset. Yes, yes. (Goes out to the right.) 

Mrs. Ro&mer. (Goes over and opens the door to the hall.) Good 
afternoon; how glad I am to see you, my dear Rector! * 

In this version the "white horses" appear, definitely ex- 
plained, after some sixteen pages: 

Rosmer. . . . My former self is dead. I look upon it as one looks 
upon a corpse. 

Mrs. Rosmer. Yes, but that is just when these white horses ap- 
pear. 

Rosmer. White horses? What white horses? 

(Madam Helset brings in the tea-urn and puts it on the table.) 

Mrs. Rosmer. What was it you told me once, Madam Helset? 
You said that from time immemorial a strange thing happened here 
whenever one of the family died. 

Madam Helset. Yes, it's true as I'm alive. Then the white horse 
comes. 

Rosmer. Oh, that old family legend — 

Mrs. Rosmer. In it comes when the night is far gone. Into the 
courtyard. Through closed gates. Neighs loudly. Launches out 
with its hind legs, gallops once round and then out again and away 
at full speed. 

Madam Helset. Yes, that's how it is. Both my mother and my 
grandmother have seen it. 

Mrs. Rosmer. And you too? 

Madam Helset. Oh, I'm not so sure whether I've seen anything 
myself. I don't generally believe in such things. But this about the 
white horse — I do believe in that. And I shall believe in it till the 
day of my death. Well, now I'll go and — (Goes out to the right.) 2 

In the final draft, Ibsen put the "white horses" into his 

i From Ibsen's Workshop, pp. 271-272. Translated by A. G. Chater. Copyright, 1911, 
by Chas. Scribner's Sons, New York. 
» Idem, pp. 288-289. 



ARRANGEMENT 181 

opening page. The beginning of this draft emphasizes par- 
ticularly a grim, unexplained tragedy. The most mysteri- 
touch in the new arrangement is given by the "white 
horses," here treated referentially, not in definite explana- 
tion. 

t ting-room at Rosmersholm; spacious, old-fashioned, and com- 
■!r.) 
(Rebecca West is sitting in an easy chair by the window and crochet- 
ing a large white woolen shawl, which is nearly finished. Now and then 
looks out expectantly through the leaves of the plants. Soon after, 
'am Helseth enters from the right.) 
Madam Helseth. I suppose I'd better begin to lay the table, Miss? 
Rebecca West. Yes, please do. The Pastor must soon be in now. 
Madam Helseth. Do you feel the draught, Miss, where you're 
sitting? 

Rebecca. Yes, there is a little draught. Perhaps you had better 
shut the window. 

(Madame Helseth shuts the door into the hall, and then comes 
to the window.) 
Madam Helseth. (About to shut the window, looks out.) Why, isn't 
that the Pastor over there? 

Rebecca. (Hastily.) Where? (Rises.) Yes, it's he. (Behind the 
curtain.) Stand aside, don't let him see us. 

Madam Helseth. (Keeping back from the window.) Only think, 

. he's beginning to take the path by the mill again. 
Rebecca. He went that way the day before yesterday, too. 
(Peeps out between the curtains and the window frame.) But let us 
see whether — 
Madam Helseth. Will he venture across the foot-bridge? 
Rebecca. That's what I want to see. (After a pause.) No, he's 
turning. He's going by the upper road again. (Leaves the window.) 
A long way round. 

Madam Helseth. Dear Lord, yes. No wonder the Pastor thinks 
twice about setting foot on that bridge. A place where a thing like 
that has happened — 
Rebecca. (Folding up her work.) They cling to their dead here at 

crsholm. 
Madam Helseth. Now I would say, Miss, that it's the dead that 
clings to Rosmersholm. 



182 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

Rebecca. (Looks at her.) The dead? 

Madam Helseth. Yes, it's almost as if they couldn't tear them- 
selves away from the folk that are left. 

Rebecca. What makes you fancy that? 

Madam Helseth. Well, if it weren't for that, there would be no 
white horse, I suppose. 

Rebecca. Now what is all this about the white horse, Madam 
Helseth? 

Madam Helseth. Oh, I don't like to talk about it. And, besides, 
>-»u don't believe in such things. 

Rebecca. Do you believe in them? 

Madam Helseth. (Goes and shuts the urindow.) Now you're making 
fun of me, Miss. (Looks out.) Why, isn't that Mr. Rosmer on the 
mill path again — ? 

Rebecca. (Looks out.) That man there? (Goes to the window.) No, 
it's the Rector! 

Madam Helseth. Yes, so it is. 

Rebecca. How glad I am! You'll see, he's coming here. 

Madam Helseth. He goes straight over the foot-bridge, he does, 
and yet she was his sister, his own flesh and blood. Well, I'll go 
and lay the table then, Miss West. 

(She goes out to the right. Rebecca stands at the window for 
a short time; then smiles and nods to some one outside. 
It begins to grow dark.) 

Rebecca. (Goes to the door on the right.) Oh, Madam Helseth, you 
might give us some little extra dish for supper. You know what the 
Rector likes best. 

Madam Helseth. (Outside.) Oh yes, Miss, I'll see to it. 

Rebecca. (Opens the door to the liaU.) At last! How glad I am to 
see you, my dear Rector. 1 

How a dramatist opens his play is, then, very important. 
He is writing supposedly for people who, except on a few 
historical subjects, know nothing of his material. If so, as 
soon as possible, he must make them understand: (1) who 
his people are; (2) where his people are; (3) the time of the 
play; and (4) what in the present and past relations of his 
characters causes the story. Is it any wonder that Ibsen, 

1 Ibsen' '* Prose Dramas, vol. v, Walter Scott, London; Chaa. Scribner's Sons, New York. 



ARRANGEMENT 183 

when writing The Pillars of Society, said: "In a few days I 
shall have the first act ready; and that is always the most 
difficult act of the play"? l 

What has just been said as to ordering the details in pre- 
liminary exposition is equivalent to saying: Decide where, 
in this exposition, you will place your emphasis. What a 
dramatist is trying to do will not be clear throughout his play 
I unless he knows how properly to emphasize his material, for 
f it is above all else emphasis which reveals the meaning of a 
I play. Right emphasis depends basally on knowing what 
\exactly is the desired total effect of the piece, — a picture, 
a thesis, a character study, or a story. Remember that 
Dumas fils said: "You cannot very well know where you 
should come out, when you don't know where you are going.'' 
Often, too, a play is either meant to set people thinking of 
undesirable social conditions, or to state a distinct thesis. 
With these two kinds particularly in mind, Mr. Galsworthy 
has said: " A drama must be shaped so as to have a spire of 
meaning." 2 

Whatever we make prominent by repetition, by elaborate 
treatment, by the position given it in an act or in the play as 
a whole, or by striking illustration, we emphasize, for it stays 
in the memory and shapes the meaning of a play for an audi- 
tor. In Othello, why does Shakespeare bring forward Iago at 
the end of an act as chorus to his own villainy? In order that 
the audience may not go astray as to the purposes of Iago 
and the general meaning of the play. Hence the soliloquies : 
"Thus do I ever make my fool my purse," as well as "And 
what's he, then, that says I play the villain?" It might al- 
most be said that good drama consists in right selection of 
necessary illustrative action and in right emphasis. 
xEven though the general exposition of a play be clear, it 

1 Letter* of Titanic Ibeen, p. €91. Fox, Duffield & Co., New York. 

1 Some Platitude! concerning Drama. Atlantic Monthly, December, 1909. 



i8+ DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

is sure, without well-handled emphasis, to leave a confused 
effect. When a play runs away with its author, its emphasis 
is always bad. The cause of this trouble usually is that the 
author drifts or rushes on, as the case may be, lured by an 
idea which he tries to present dramatically; or by the devel- 
opment of some character who, for the moment, possesses his 
imagination ; or by the handling of some scene of large dra- 
matic possibilities. In a recent play meant to illustrate amus- 
ingly a series of situations arising from the gossip of a small 
town, Act I so ended that a reader could not tell whether 
the school principal, a woman dentist, or the atmosphere 
of gossip was meant to be of prime importance. Nor was 
this poor emphasis ever corrected anywhere. Result: a con- 
fusing play. 

A story-play in some respects of great merit failed in its 
total effect because the author never really knew whether 
it was a study of the deterioration of a young man's char- 
acter or of a mother's self-sacrificing and redeeming love, a 
mere story-play, or a drama intended to drive home a 
central idea which, apparently, always eluded the author. 
Fine realism of detail, good characterization in places, and 
genuine if scattered interest could not carry this play to 
success. 

In another play, Act I ended with the failure of a well-in- 
tentioned friend to take a child from her father for her better 
bringing-up. Apparently, we were entering upon a study 
of parental affection. In Act II, however, this interest prac- 
tically disappeared, and we were asked to give all our at- 
tention to the way in which a son-in-law was bringing ruin 
upon this same parent. In Act III, another cause for anx- 
iety on the part of the parent appeared, the other disap- 
pearing. At the end of the play, however, we were expected 
to understand that the fond parent was in sight of calm 
weather. Proper emphasis which would have brought out 



ARRANGEMENT 185 

the central idea illustrated by each of the acts was missing. 
In The Trap, a four-act play developed from a vaudeville 
iketch, lack of good emphasis went far to spoil an interest- 
ing play. In the original sketch, a woman, induced by lies of 
the villain, comes to the apartment of a man who has at one 
time been in love with her. She is determined to know 
whether what the villain has told her is true or not. All is 
a trap which the villain has set for her. From it the astute- 
ness and quick decision of her former admirer rescue her. 
In the vaudeville sketch, it was the former lover who was 
the active person, — advising, scheming, and controlling the 
situation. When this was made over, in Act I the heroine 
was the central figure; in Act II the villain took this position 
away from her; in Act III the hero, as in the original sketch, 
had the centre of the stage; in Act IV there was an attempt 
to bring the heroine back into prominence, but she divided 
interest with the hero. As a result of this uncertain emphasis, 
the play seemed intended for the heroine but taken away from 
her by the greater human appeal of the hero. Just as the 
lecturer keeps clear from start to finish the main theme of 
his discourse and the bearing upon it of the various divisions 
of the work, the dramatist keeps his main purpose clear and 
also the relations to it of scenes and acts. This he does by 
well-handled emphasis. Othello, for instance, must have 
some proof which the audience will believe conclusive for 
him of Desdemona's infidelity. This is the handkerchief 
which Iago tells Othello that Desdemona gave to Cassio. 
Notice the iteration with which this handkerchief is im- 
pressed upon the attention of the public just before it is used 
as conclusive proof of Desdemona's guilt. 

Othello. I have a pain upon my forehead here. 

Desdemona. Faith, that's with watching; 'twill away again: 
Let me but bind it hard, within this hour 
It will be well. 



186 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

Othello. Your napkin is too little; (Lets fall her napkin.) 

Let it alone. Come, I'll go in with you. 

Desdemona. I am very sorry that you are not well. 

(Exeunt Othello and Desdemona.) 

Emilia. I am glad I have found this napkin; 
This was her first remembrance from the Moor. 
My wayward husband hath a hundred times 
Woo'd me to steal it; but she so loves the token, 
For he conjur'd her she should ever keep it, 
That she reserves it evermore about her 
To kiss and talk to. I '11 have the work ta'en out, 
And give it to Iago. What he will do with it 
Heaven knows, not I; 
I nothing but to please his fantasy. 

(Re-enter Iago) 

Iago. How now! what do you here alone? 

Emilia. Do not you chide; I have a thing for you. 

Iago. A thing for me? It is a common thing — 

Emilia. Ha! 

Iago. To have a foolish wife. 

Emilia. Oh, is that all? What will you give me now 
For that same handkerchief? 

Iago. What handkerchief? 

Emilia. What handkerchief! 
Why, that the Moor first gave to Desdemona; 
That which so often you did bid me steal. 

Iago. Hast stolen it from her? 

Emilia. No, faith; she let it drop by negligence, 
And, to the advantage, I, being here took't up. 
Look, here it is. 

Iago. A good wench; give it me. 

Emilia. What will you do with't, that you have been so earnest 
To have me filch it? 

Iago. (Snatching it.) Why, what is that to you? 

Emilia. If it be not for some purpose of import, 
Give't me again. Poor lady, she'll run mad 
When she shall lack it. 

Iago. Be not acknown on't; I have use for it, 
Go, leave me. (Exit Emilia.) 



ARRANGEMENT 187 

I will in Cassio's lodging lose this napkin, 
And let him find it. Trifles light as air 
Are to the jealous confirmations strong 
As proofs of holy writ; this may do something. 
The Moor already changes with my poison, 
Dangerous conceits are, in their natures, poisons, 
Which at the first are scarce found to distaste, 
But with a little act upon the blood, 
Burn like the mines of sulphur. 1 

Five times the handkerchief is mentioned. The first time 
the action is such that Othello specially notices the hand- 
kerchief. The second time we find another reason why the 
Moor should specially remember the handkerchief, and 
learn that Iago wants it for some reason of his own. The 
third time appears the iteration, 

. . . that same handkerchief? 
Iago. What handkerchief? 
Emilia. What handkerchief! 

and emphasis on the ideas already stated: 

Emilia. Why, that the Moor first gave to Desdemona; 
That which so often you did bid me steal. 

The next time, the action, as Iago snatches the handker- 
chief and Emilia tries to get it back, holds it before our at- 
tention. Finally, Iago, left alone, tells us his malicious scheme 
in regard to it. Surely, after all this, the audience has been 
properly prepared for the scenes in which Iago deceives and 
enrages Othello by means of this very handkerchief. 

In the first few minutes of the play, Lady Windermere's 
Fan, the attention of the audience is drawn to the fan: 

Lady Windermere. My hands are all wet with these roses. Aren't 
they lovely? They came up from Selby this morning. 

Lord Darlington. They are quite perfect. (Sees a fan lying on the 
table.) And what a wonderful fan ! May I look at it? 

1 Othtllo, Act m, Scene 8. 



188 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

Lady Windermere. Do. Pretty, isn't it! It's got my name on it, 
and everything. [Note the emphasis here.] I have only just seen 
it myself. It's my husband's birthday present to me. You know 
today is my birthday? 

Lord Darlington. No? Is it really? l 

Just before the close of the first act, it is with this fan that 
Lady Windermere points her threat against Mrs. Erlynne: 

Lady Windermere. (Picking up fan.) Yes, you gave me this fan 
today; it was your birthday present. If that woman crosses my 
threshold I shall strike her across the face with it. 

That Lady Windermere owns a fan ; tjiat it bears her name; 
that, as a gift chosen by her husband and recently given her, 
he must recognize it on sight: all these important facts have 
been planted by neat emphasis when Act I ends. Even in 
Act II, the fan is kept before the public. Just before Mrs. 
Erlynne enters, we have: 

Lady Windermere. Will you hold my fan for me, Lord Darling- 
ton? Thanks. 

Lady Windermere. (Moves up.) Lord Darlington, will you give 
me back my fan, please? Thanks. ... A useful thing, a fan, isn't 
it? 

When Mrs. Erlynne enters, Lady Windermere "clutches 
at her fan, then lets it drop on the floor": 

Lord Darlington. You have dropped your fan, Lady Windermere. 
(Picks it up and hands it to her.) 

Such careful emphasizing makes sure that Lord Winder- 
mere's instant recognition of the significance of finding the 
fan in Lord Darlington's rooms, in the critical scene of the 
third act, will be immediately shared by any audience. 

Mr. Augustus Thomas, in Act II of As a Man Thinks, 
wishes his audience to feel instantly the full significance of 

1 Lady Windermere's Fan, Act i. Oscar Wilde. J. W. Luce & Co., Boston. 



ARRANGEMENT 189 

the opera libretto picked up by Hoover, as he watches Elinor 
tutor the apartment of De Lota. Therefore, earlier in the 
act he emphasizes as follows: 

Elinor. ( To Burnt.) Here's a libretto of Aida. Find that passage 
of which you spoke. 

Burnt, There were several. 

Mrs. Seelig. Our coffee won't interfere with your cigars. 

De Lota. Do you mind? 

Elinor. This room is dedicated to nicotine. (To Mrs. Seelig.) 
Besides, we 're going to take Dr. De Lota to the piano. 

De Lota. Are you? 

Elinor. (To Vedah.) Aren't we? 

Vedah. We are. 

Burril. Here's one place. (His pencil breaks.) Ah! 

Clayton. (Offering a pencil attached to his watch chain.) Here. 

Burril. (Giving libretto to Clayton.) Just mark that passage — 
"My native land," etc. (To Elinor.) Now follow that when Aida 
sings Italian and note how the English stumbles. 1 

Two pages later, as Elinor goes out to the automobile, 
in order that the audience may see the libretto of which we 
have heard so much pass into the hands of De Lota, we have 
this: 

Elinor. Take this for me. (Hands libretto to De Lota.) 

Later in the act, when Judge Hoover is telling Clayton that 
he saw some woman with De Lota as he was entering the 
apartment, the dialogue runs: 

Clayton. You spoke to him? 

Hoover. Called to him. 

Clayton. Called? 

Hoover. Yes — I was forty feet away. 

Clayton. Had your nerve with you. 

Hoover. The girl dropped something — I thought it was a fan. 

Clayton. Well? 

Hoover. 'Twasn't — but that's why I called De Lota. 

1 Duffield & Co.. New York. 



igo DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

Clayton. How do you know it wasn't? 

Hoover. I picked it up. 

Clayton. What was it? 

Hoover. A libretto. 

Clayton. What libretto? 

Hoover. Don't know — but grand opera — I remember that 
and libretto — 

Clayton. You threw it away? 

Hoover. No — kept it. 

Clayton. Where is it? 

Hoover. Overcoat pocket. 

Clayton. (Pause.) I'd like to see it. Think I could have some fun 
tfith De Lota. 

Hoover. (Going up the hallway.) My idea too — fun and word 
)f caution. (Gets coat and returns, feeling in pocket for libretto.) 

Clayton. Caution — naturally. 

Hoover. Here it is. (Reads.) Aida. 

Clayton. (Taking libretto savagely.) Aida — let me see it. 

Hoover. What's the matter? (Puts coat on a chair.) 

Clayton. (In sudden anger, throws book.) The dog! Damn him — 
damn both of them! 

Hoover. What is it? See here — Who's with Dick? 

Clayton. Not his mother — no! (Points to libretto on the floor.) 
Marked. I did that myself, not an hour ago, and gave it to her. 

Hoover. To Elinor? 

Clayton. (Calling as he rushes to the hall.) Sutton! Sutton! 

Hoover. Hold on, Frank — there's some mistake. 

Clayton. Get me a cab — never mind — I'll take Seelig's ma- 
chine. (Disappears.) Here! Doctor Seelig says to take me to — 

(He goes out. Door bangs.) 

Sutton enters from the dining-room 
Sutton. Is Master Dick in danger, sir? 

Hoover. (Nervously.) I don't know, Sutton. Where's his mother? 
Sutton. Opera, sir. 
Hoover. With whom? 
Sutton. Mr. De Lota. 

Because of the emphasis given the libretto in the first 
quotation, the audience's suspicions are roused at the same 
time as Clayton's and his emotions are theirs. Yet, even in 



ARRANGEMENT 191 

this last scene, note the care of Mr. Thomas to make all ab- 
iolutely clear. He does not stop when Hoover says "A li- 
bretto," and "Of grand opera," but he lets the audience see 
the same libretto which passed from Elinor to De Lota pass 
from Hoover to Clayton, the latter identifying it in his cry, 
"Aida." That there may be absolutely no doubt in the 
evidence piling up against Elinor, he has Clayton point to 
the marked place with the words: "I did that myself." 

Emphasis, as in these three instances, may come on 
some detail — handkerchief, fan, libretto — which is to be 
made important later in the development of the plot. It 
may come within a scene or act, or at the end of either to 
emphasize a part or the whole of the scene or act. The solil- 
oquies of Iago referred to on page 183 are of this sort. Em- 
phasis may stress little by little or with one blow what the 
play means. The significance of the whole play Strife — 
the utter uselessness of the conflict chronicled — is thus em- 
phasized in the last lines of the play: 

Harness. A woman dead; and the two best men both broken! 
Tench. (Staring at him — suddenly excited.) D'you know, sir — 
these terms, they're the very same we drew up together, you and 
I, and put to both sides before the fight began? All this — all this 
— and — and what for? 
Harness. (In a slow, grim voice.) That's where the fun comes in! 
(Underwood without turning from the door makes a gesture 
of assent.) 

The curtain falls ■ 

The Second Mrs. Tanqueray 2 illustrates the play in which 
emphasis little by little brings out the meaning of the whole 
piece. Examine even the first act. It is full of the feeling: 
" It cannot nor it will not come to good." Tanqueray himself 
says frankly, "My marriage is not even the conventional 
sort of marriage likely to satisfy society." , Drummle com- 

1 Play: G. P. Putnam's Sons, New York. 

* Walter H. Baker & Co., Boston; W. Heinemann, London. 



iQ2 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

ing in declares that George Orreyed is "a thing of the past," 
because he has married Mabel Hervey. The group of old 
friends show anxiety, and it is clear that to the mind of 
Cayley Drummle Tanqueray is but repeating the rash step 
of Orreyed. The whole act prepares for the finale of the play. 
Hervieu's The Trail of the Torch shows the emphasis 
which strikes one hard blow and leaves to the rest of the 
play illustration of what has been clearly stressed. About 
one third of the way through Act I, Maravon explains to 
Sabine the thesis which the entire play illustrates: 

Sabine. (Pointing to the two who have just gone.) Ah, my dear 
Maravon, what an absurd friend I have there! 

Maravon. Mme. Gribert, you mean? ' 

Sabine. Haven't you noticed that she is beginning to look like 
a governess? I suppose it's because she has been doing a govern- 
ess' work for so long that she has ceased to have any personal exist- 
ence. She no longer cares to possess anything of her own, every- 
thing belongs to her daughter, and her husband works his fingers to 
the bone to pay for Beatrice's dresses, while Beatrice lords it over 
both of them in a way that is beginning to be just a trifle odious. 

Maravon. I'm afraid I don't agree with you, Madame. With 
naively natural beings, like these, I enjoy watching the family 
wheels function with such simplicity. People of this kind conform 
to the law which begins by demanding of the mother the flesh of 
her flesh, often her beauty, her health, and, if need be, her life, 
for the formation of the child. And then, for the profit of the 
newer generation, Nature exerts herself to despoil the old. She 
exacts without stint from the parents in the shape of labors, anx- 
ieties, expenses, gifts, and sacrifices, all of their vital forces to 
equip, arm, and decorate their sons and daughters who are de- 
scending into the plain of the future. Take my own case, for in- 
stance. There was the question of my son's position in life. Didier 
was able to persuade me very quickly that my property would be 
better placed, for the future, in his hands. To show you that Mme. 
Gribert and her daughter are merely following out a tradition 
of the remotest antiquity, if you can endure the pedantry of an old 
college professor, I will give you an example from the classics. 

Sabine. Oh! Please do. 



ARRANGEMENT 193 

}fararon. You have probably never heard of the "Lampado- 
phories," have you? Well, on certain solemn occasions the citizens 
of Athens placed themselves at regular intervals, forming a sort of 
chain through the city. The first one lighted a torch at an altar, 
ran to the second and passed to him the light, and he to a third who 
ran to the fourth and so on, from hand to hand. Each one of the 
chain ran onward without ever looking back and without any idea 
pi to keep the flame alight and pass it on to the next man. 
Then, breathlessly stopping, each saw nothing but the progress 
of the flaming light, as each followed it with his eyes, his then use- 
less anxiety, and superfluous vows. In that Trail of the Torch has 
been seen a symbol of all the generations of the earth, though 
it is not I, but my very ancient friend Plato, and the good poet 
Lucretius, who made the analogy. 

Sabine. That is not at all my idea of family relations. From my 
point of view, receiving life entails as great an obligation as giving 
it. There is a certain sort of link which makes the obligations 
counter balance. Since Nature has not made it possible for chil- 
dren to bring themselves into the world, of their own accord, I say 
that it was her intention to impose upon them a debt to those who 
give them life. 

Maravon. They absolve that debt by giving life in turn to their 
children. 

Sabine. They absolve it by filial piety which has been the in- 
spiration of many deeds of heroism as you seem to forget. 1 

A recent editor of Hauptmann's Gabriel Schilling's Flight 
writes of it: "His analysis is projected creatively in the char- 
acters of the two women — Evelyn Schilling and Hanna 
Elias. What is it, in these women, that — different as they 
are — menaces the man and the artist Schilling? It is a pas- 
sion for possession, for absorption, a hunger of the nerves 
rather than of the heart. These modern women have aban- 
doned the simple and sane preoccupations of their grand- 
mothers; the enormous garnered nervous energy that is no 
longer expended in household tasks and in childbearing 
strikes itself, beak and clawlike, into man. But man has not 

1 The Trail of the Torch, Paul Hervieu. Translated by J. H. Haughton. Drama League 
Seri«». vol. xn. Doubleday Page & Co., New York. 



194 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

changed. His occupations are not gone. He cannot endure 
the double burden. That is why Gabriel Schilling, rather 
than be destroyed spiritually by these tyrannies and exac- 
tions, seeks a last refuge in the great and cleansing purity 
of the sea. 

' The modern malady of love is nerves.' " * 

It is possible that all this may be derived from the play, 
but the Berlin audience which watched its first night left 
the theatre bewildered in more than one respect. There were 
a half-dozen opinions as to what this ugly story of a very 
weak man was meant to signify. Was it simply the tale of 
a weak man? Was it meant to show, as Professor Lewisohn 
thinks, that creation in an artist not naturally weak at first 
may be killed if he is pursued by women selfish in their love? 
Does the ending, however, show that Hanna is entirely self- 
ish? Does the play signify that the man who chooses to fol- 
low women rather than his art is lost? Why is there so much 
emphasis on the awesomeness of Nature on the island ? Have 
these conditions of Nature anything to do with Schilling's 
death? If so, do they not mitigate the effect upon him of the 
women? Lack of well-placed emphasis made Gabriel Schil- 
ling's Flight a failure, interesting as were the questions it 
raised and masterly as is much of its characterization. 

Too often young dramatists forget that the beginning and 
/the ending of acts and plays emphasize even when the author 
I does not so intend. As in real life, it is first and final impres- 
sions, rather than intermediate, which count most. An ?ble 
young dramatist complained that though he wished one of 
his characters to dominate Act I she certainly failed to do 
this. The trouble was that an attractive old gardener, the 
character who took the act away from the young woman, 
opened the play attractively characterized and closed Act I 

1 The Dramatic Works of Gerhart Hauptmann, vol. vi, Introduction, p. xi, Ludwig Lew- 
isohn, ed. B. W. Huebscb, New York. 



ARRANGEMENT 195 

with effective speech and pantomime, when the woman 
busy only with unimportant pantomime. The promi- 
nence unintentionally given to the old gardener emphasized 
him at the expense of the young woman. 

For the value of openings in emphasizing the meaning of 
the whole play, see Tennyson's Becket as originally written, 
and as rearranged by Sir Henry Irving. 1 Tennyson's Becket 
begins with Henry and the future Archbishop at chess, 
talking of matters in state and church. 

PROLOGUE 

A Castle in Normandy. Interior of the hall. Roofs of a city seen 
through windows. Henry and Becket at chess. 

Henry. So then our good Archbishop Theobald 
Lies dying. 

Becket. I am grieved to know as much. 

Henry. But we must have a mightier man than he 
For his successor. 

Becket. Have you thought of one? 

Henry. A cleric lately poison'd his own mother, 
And being brought before the courts of the Church, 
They but degraded him. I hope they whipt him. 
I would have hang'd him. 

Becket. It is your move. 

Henry. Well — there. (Moves.) 

The Church in the pell-mell of Stephen's time 
Hath climb'd the throne and almost clutched the crown; 
But by the royal customs of our realm 
The Church should hold her baronies of me, 
Like other lords amenable to law. 
I'll have them written down and made the law. 

Becket. My liege, I move my bishop. 

Henry. And if I live, 

No man without my leave shall excommunicate 
My tenants or my household. 

Becket. Look to your king. 

1 The Macmillan Co. publish both forms. 



196 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

Henry. No man without my leave shall cross the seas 
To set the Pope against me — I pray your pardon. 

Becket. Well — will you move? 

Henry. There. {Moves.) 

Becket. Check — you move so wildly. 

Henry. There then! (Moves.) 

Becket. Why — there then, for you see my bishop 

Hath brought your king to a standstill. You are beaten. 

Henry. (Kicks over the board.) Why, there then — down go 
bishop and king together. 
I loathe being beaten; had I fixt my fancy 
Upon the game I should have beaten thee, 
But that was vagabond. 

Becket. Where, my liege? With Phryne, 

Or Lais, or thy Rosamund, or another? 

Henry My Rosamund is no Lais, Thomas Becket; 
And yet she plagues me too — no fault in her — 
But that I fear the Queen would have her life. 

Becket. Put her away, put her away, my liege! 
Put her away into a nunnery! 

Safe enough there from her to whom thou art bound 
By Holy Church. And wherefore should she seek 
The life of Rosamund de Clifford more 
Than that of other paramours of thine? 

Henry. How dost thou know I am not wedded to her? 

Becket. How should I know? 

Henry. That is my secret, Thomas. 

Becket. State secrets should be patent to the statesman 
Who serves and loves his king, and whom the king 
Loves not as statesman, but true lover and friend. 

Henry. Come, come, thou art but deacon, not yet bishop, 
No, nor archbishop, nor my confessor yet. 
I would to God thou wert, for I should find 
An easy father confessor in thee. 

Irving, transposing, takes us at once into the plotting of 
the Queen against Becket because of her hatred for Rosa- 
mund and Becket's supposed protection of the King's mis- 
tress. A secondary interest in Tennyson's presentation be- 
comes by this shifting first interest with Irving. 



ARRANGEMENT 197 

PROLOGUE 
SCENE 1. A Castle in Normandy. Eleanor. Fitz Urse 

Eltcinor. Dost thou love this Becket, this son of a London mer- 
chant, that thou hast sworn a voluntary allegiance to him? 

Fitz Urse. Not for my love toward him, but because he hath the 

< »f the King. How should a baron love a beggar on horseback, 

with the retinue of three kings behind him, outroyaltying royalty? 

Eleanor. Pride of the plebeian! 

Fitz Urse. And this plebeian like to be Archbishop! 

Eleanor. True, and I have an inherited loathing of these black 
sheep of the Papacy. Archbishop? I can see farther into man than 
our hot-headed Henry, and if there ever come feud between Church 
and Crown, and I do not charm this secret out of our loyal Thomas, 
I am not Eleanor. 

Fitz Urse. Last night I followed a woman in the city here. Her 
face was veiled, but the back methought was Rosamund — his 
paramour, thy rival. I can feel for thee. 

Eleanor. Thou feel for me! — paramour — rival! No paramour 
but his own wedded wife! King Louis had no paramours, and I 
loved him none the more. Henry had many and I loved him none 
the less. I would she were but his paramour, for men tire of their 
fancies; but I fear this one fancy hath taken root, and borne blossom 
too, and she, whom the King loves indeed, is a power in the State. 
Follow me this Rosamund day and night, whithersoever she goes; 
track her, if thou can'st, even into the King's lodging, that I may 
(clenches her fist) — may at least have my cry against him and her, 
— and thou in thy way shouldst be jealous of the King, for thou 
in thy way didst once, what shall I call it, affect her thine own self. 

Fitz Urse. Ay, but the young filly winced and whinnied and flung 
up her heels; and then the King came honeying about her, and this 
Becket, her father's friend, like enough staved us from her. 

Eleanor. Us! 

Fitz Urse. Yea, by the blessed Virgin! There were more than I 
buzzing round the blossom — De Tracy — even that flint De 
Brito. 

Eleanor. Carry her off among you; run in upon her and devour 
her, one and all of you; make her as hateful to herself and to the 
King as she is to me. 

Fitz Urse. I and all should be glad to wreak our spite on the rose- 



198 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

faced minion of the King, and bring her to the level of the dust, so 
that the King — 

Eleanor. If thou light upon her — free me from her! — let her 
eat it like the serpent and be driven out of her paradise! 

The story of Nathan Hale might be made into a play 
with patriotism as its dominant idea, a close character study 
of Hale himself, or little more than a love story. Notice the 
way in which with Clyde Fitch the close of the acts steadily 
emphasizes the love story as the central interest. The first 
scene is in the school room where Hale is the teacher of 
Alice Adams. 

(Hale goes toward Alice with his arms outstretched to embrace her; 
Alice goes into his arms — a long embrace and hiss ; a hud tapping on 
a drum outside startles them.) 

Hale. The Tory meeting! 

Alice. Fitzroy will be back. I don't want to see him! 
Hale. Quick — we'll go by the window! (Putting a chair under 
the window he jumps onto chair ; then leans in the window and holds 
out his hands to Alice, who is on the chair.) And if tomorrow another 
drum makes me a soldier — ? 

Alice. It will make me a soldier's sweetheart! 
Hale. Come. 

(She goes out of the window with his help, and with loud 
drum tattoo and bugle call, the stage is left empty and the 
curtain falls.) 

The second act at Colonel Knowlton's house closes on 
Hale's decision to serve his country as a spy: 

Alice. (In a whisper.) You will go? 

Hale. I must. 

Alice. (A wild cry.) Then I hate you! 

Hale. And I love you and always will so long as a heart beats in 
my body. (He wishes to embrace her.) 

Alice. No! 

(She draws back her head, her eyes blazing, she is momenta- 
rily insane with fear and grief, anger and love. Hale bows 
his head and slowly goes from the room. Alice, with a faint 
heartbroken cry, sinks limply to the floor, her father hurry- 
ing to her as the curtain falls.) 



ARRANGEMENT 190 

This is the close of Act III. 

Fitzroy. Look! 

(And he bends Alice's head back upon his shoulder u> 
kiss her on the lips.) 
Bale. Blackguard! 

(With a blow of his right arm he knocks Cunningham on the 
hcad t who, falling, hits his head against the pillar of the 
porch and is stunned. Meanwhile, the moment he has hit 
Cunningham, Hale has sprung upon Fitzroy, and with one 
hand over his mouth has bent his head back with the other 
until he has released Alice. Hale then throws Fitzroy down 
and seizing Alice about the waist dashes off with her to the 
right, where his horse is. Fitzroy rises and runs to Cun- 
ningham, kicks him to get his gun, which has fallen under 
him.) 
Fitzroy. Get up! Get up! You fool! 

(Horse's hoofs heard starting off.) 
Third Picket's Voice. (Off stage.) Who goes there? 
Fitzroy. (Stops, looks up, and gives a triumphant cry.) Ah, the 
picket! They're caught! They're caught! 
Hale. Returning with Alice Adams on private business. 
Picket. The password. 
Hale. "Love!" 

Fitzroy. Damnation! Of course he heard! (Runs off right, yell' 
ing.) Fire on them! Fire! For God's sake, fire! 

(A shot is heard, followed by a loud defiant laugh from Hale, 
and echoed "Love," as the clatter of the horse's hoofs dies 
away, and the curtain falls.) 

Act IV has a double ending: the closing of the love story 
and the execution. The chief interest thus far created for 
the audience could end with the parting of the lovers. 

(The soldiers sing the air of what is now called "Believe Me If All 
Those Endearing Young Charms." Hale stands listening for the 
sound of Alice's coming. The Sentinel retires to the farther corner of 
the tent, and stands with arms folded, his back towards Hale. Tom 
comes on first, bringing Alice. As they come into Hale's presence, Alice 
glides from out of Tom's keeping, and her brother leaves the two to- 
gether. They stand looking at each other a moment without moving and 



200 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

then both make a quick movement to meet. As their arms touch in the 
commencement of their embrace, they remain in that position a few 
moments, looking into each other's eyes. Then they embrace, Hale clasp- 
ing her tight in his arms and pressing a long kiss upon her lips. They 
remain a few moments in this position, silent and immovable. Then 
they slowly loosen their arms — though not altogether discontinuing 
the embrace — until they take their first position and again gaze into 
each other's faces. Alice sways, about to fall, faint from the effort to 
control her emotions, and Hale gently leads her to the tree stump at 
right. He kneels beside her so that she can rest against him with her 
arms about his neck. After a moment, keeping her arms still tight 
about him, Alice makes several ineffectual efforts to speak, but her quiv- 
ering lips refuse to form any words, and her breath comes with diffi- 
culty. Hale shakes his head with a sad smile, as if to say, "No, don't 
try to speak. There are no words for us." And again they embrace. 
At this moment, while Alice is clasped again tight in Hale's arms, 
the Sentinel, who has his watch in his hand, slowly comes out from the 
tent. Tom also re-enters, but Alice and Hale are oblivious. Tom goes 
softly to them and touches Alice very gently on the arm, resting his hand 
there. She starts violently, with a hysterical taking-in of Jier breath, 
and an expression of fear and horror, as she knows this is the final 
moment of parting. Hale also starts slightly, rising, and his muscles 
grow rigid. He clasps and kisses her once more, but only for a second. 
They both are unconscious of Tom, of everything but each other. Tom 
takes her firmly from Hale, and leads her out, her eyes fixed upon Hale's 
eyes, their arms outstretched toward each other. After a few paces she 
breaks forcibly away from Tom, and with a wild cry of "No! No!" 
locks her hands about Hale's neck. Tom draws her away again and 
leads her backward from the scene, her lips dry now and her breath 
coming in short, loud, horror-stricken gasps. Hale holds in his hand 
a red rose she wore on her breast, and thinking more of her than of 
himself, whispers, as she goes, " Be brave ! be brave ! " The light is being 
slowly lowered, till, as Alice disappears, the stage is in total darkness.) 

The second ending merely connects the play more closely 
with history. 

Colonel Rutger's Orchard, the next morning. The scene is an orchard 
whose trees are heavy with red and yellow fruit. The centre tree has a 
heavy dark branch jutting out, which is the gallows; from this branch 
all the leaves and the little branches have been chopped off; a heavy coil 



ARRANGEMENT 201 

of rope with a noose hangs from it, and against the trunk of the tree 

. It is the moment before dawn, and slowly at the back 

/// the trees is seen a purple streak, which changes to crimson as 

u p. A dim gray haze next Jills the stage, and through this 

gradually breaks the rising sun. The birds begin to wake, and suddenly 

is heard the loud, deep4oned, single toll of a bell, followed by a 

roll of muffled drums in the distance. Slowly the orchard fills with 

murmuring, whispering people; men and women coming up through 

trees make a semicircle amongst them, about the gallows tree, 

but at a rjood distance. The bell tolls at intervals, and muffled drums 

are heard between the twittering and happy songs of birds. There is 

mud of musketry, of drums beating a funeral march, which gets 

nearer, and finally a company of British soldiers marches in, led by 

Fitzroy, Nathan Hale in their midst, walking alone, his hands tied 

behind his back. As he comes forward the people are absolutely silent, 

and a girl in the front row of the spectators falls forward in a dead faint. 

s quickly carried out by two bystanders. Hale is led to the foot of 

Vie tree before the ladder. The soldiers are in double lines on either side. 

Fitzroy. {To Hale.) Nathan Hale, have you anything to say? 

We are ready to hear your last dying speech and confession! 

(Hale is standing, looking up, his lips moving slightly, as if 
in prayer. He remains in this position a moment, and 
then, with a sigh of relief and rest, looks upon the sym- 
pathetic faces of the people about him, with almost a smile 
on his face.) 
Hale. I onlv regret that I have but one life to lose for my coiin- 

try! 

(Fitzroy makes a couple of steps toward him; Hate turns 
and places one foot on the lower rung of the ladder, as the 
curtain falls.) 1 

Watch, then, the beginning and the ending of scenes and 
acts, lest an unconscious and undesired emphasis result. 

An important means of emphasis is contrast — in charac- 
ter, situation, and even dialogue. Melodrama has always 
rested, in large part, for its definite emotional appeals on 
sharply contrasted characters — the spotless hero, the double- 
dyed villain, the adventuress, and the heroine so innocent 

■ Saihan Bale, Act iv, Scene 2. Clyde Fitch. Little, Brown & Co., Boston. 



202 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

of the world as to provide unlimited dramatic situations. Re- 
call the impetuous Julia and the gentle Sylvia of The Two 
Gentlemen of Verona. If it be said that such direct contrasting 
of dissimilar figures belongs more to the earlier plays of dra- 
matists, this is not true. In The Gay Lord Quex, 1 contrast 
of the old and the young roues, Quex and Bastling, helps to 
make clear and to emphasize the point of the play. The 
Princess and the Butterfly 2 largely depends upon contrast, — 
among the restless women of Act I, the restless men of Act 
II, between the Princess and Sir George, between the love 
of Fay Zuliani for Sir George and that of Edward for the 
Princess. 

Contrast in situation was a great reliance with the Eliza- 
bethans and, even when very crudely used, remains popular 
with the American public today. So much pleasure did the 
Elizabethan derive from contrasted situation that he was will- 
ing to have it worked up as a separate sub-plot, at times very 
slightly connected with the main plot. Take The Change- 
ling of Middleton : the titular part, written for comic value, 
deals with scenes in a madhouse; the other intensely tragic 
plot of De Flores and Beatrice-Joanna is but slightly con- 
nected with it. Think of the grave-diggers in Hamlet, just 
before the burial of Ophelia, and, above all, consider in Mac- 
beth the consummate use of a contrasting scene, in the por- 
ter at the gate just after the murder of Duncan. 

It is a sense of the value of contrasting situation which 
produces the best dramatic irony. When in Scene 2, Act I, 
of Hindle Wakes, we listen to Alan Jeffcote's father and 
mother planning for his marriage, the fine dramatic irony 
comes from the contrast we feel with the facts of his con- 
duct, known to us from the preceding scene, which may 
make his marriage impossible. Dramatic irony depends on 
a preceding planting in the minds of the auditors of infor- 

1 Walter H. Baker & Co., Boston; W. Heinemann, London. 2 Idem. 



ARRANGEMENT 203 

mat ion which makes what is true contrast sharply with 
what the characters of the particular scene suppose to be 
true. Contrast, then, underlies dramatic irony. An audience, 
feeling the dramatic irony of a scene, is put into a state 
of susi>ense as to how and when the blow they anticipate 
will fall. Evidently, then, emphasis by means of contrast, 
when it results in dramatic irony, makes for dramatic sus- 
pense. 

Contrast may be used effectively in dialogue. The modern 
dramatist sometimes overdoes this use. Because he has ob- 
served that the greatest suffering of the strongest natures 
rarely finds expression in rich or varied speech, he tries to 
discover words which in their feebleness, their inapposite- 
ness, or their unexpected commonplaceness, contrast sharply 
with what a hearer feels is the intensity of the emotion be- 
hind them. This has given us in recent drama some dialogue 
unnatural in its tameness. This kind of contrast, however, 
when handled with real understanding, is extremely effective. 
In the parting of Laurie and the heroine in Iris, 1 the very 
commonplaceness of the details of which they talk shows 
that they do not dare to speak of what is really in their 
minds, and makes the best preparation for the sudden loos- 
ing of emotion by Iris in what would be ordinarily a simple 
request: "Close the jalousies!" 

Except in our recent revival of Moralities for the delecta- 
tion of moral Broadway, we are growing away dramatically 
from mere contrasting of types of character and from plays 
in which a serious and a comic plot are but loosely connected. 
Yet dramatists will always find contrast highly useful in 
emphasizing points of characterization and important values 
in the story. Moreover, any trained dramatist knows that 
when his audience has been somewhat exhausted by laugh- 

1 Pp. 145-45. R. H. Russell, New York. Abo published by Walter H. Baker & Co, 
Boston. 



204 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

ter or tears, a scene of contrasting emotional value is of the 
highest importance. By changing the focus of interest, it re- 
news the power of response exhausted in the just preceding 
scene. As has been pointed out again and again, though it 
may be true that the drunken porter in Macbeth was funnier 
for an Elizabethan public than he is today, nevertheless his 
coming breaks the tension of the terrible murder scene and 
makes it possible even now to turn to fresh horrors with 
surer responsiveness. There is no space here to go into any 
satisfactory analysis of the basal relations between the seri- 
ous and the comic, but every competent actor knows that fre- 
quently, if the full desired comic values are to appear, it is nec- 
essary to play a part, or all the parts, with great seriousness, 
even in a piece meant to be broadly comic for the audience. 
This is true not merely in some of Shaw's plays, — Man and 
Superman, You Never Can Tell, etc., but in many old farces 
and even in burlesque. In the contrast the audience makes 
between the seriousness of the characters in what they do 
and say and the attitude the dramatist creates toward them 
lie the real comic values. Often it is only on the flint of the 
serious that one may strike the most brilliant spark of the 
comic. 

Emphasis is needed not only to keep clear the development 
of the story and its thesis, if there be any, but also to deter- 
mine and maintain the dramatic form in which it is cast — 
farce, comedy, melodrama, and tragedy. If an audience is 
kept long in the dark as to whether the dramatist is thinking 
of his material seriously or with amusement, or if they feel 
at the end that the story has been told with no coordinating 
emphasis to determine whether it is farce or comedy or trag- 
edy, they are confused and likely to hold back part of their 
proper responsiveness. As has been pointed out, it is more 
than doubtful whether the scene of the attempted suicide 
in what is otherwise a genuine comedy of character, The 



ARRANGEMENT 205 

Girl with the Green Eyes, 1 did not seriously hurt the effective- 
1 of the play for a great many people. 
Here, again, beginnings and endings are of the utmost con- 
uence. Notice the extreme care of Maeterlinck, at the 
out sot of Pdleas and Melisande 2 to create a mood for his play. 
One is prepared for the tragic and the mysterious by the 
opening scene of the handmaidens washing the mysterious 
stain from the palace steps. An auditor has not heard ten 
speeches of Synge's Riders to the Sea 3 before he knows that 
the dramatist is dealing seriously with grim matters, that, 
in all probability, the play is a tragedy. Look at Rostand's 
The RotJiancers. 4 It is to be a graceful telling of a jest played 
upon two sentimental children by two fond fathers. The 
author must make clear early in the play that what may be 
tragic enough for the young people is to be fantastic comedy 
for any hearers. Could anything be better than the opening: 
these two children, on the wall between their homes, so read- 
ing Romeo and Juliet together that it is obvious that they are 
in love with being in love, nothing more? There is the perfect 
emphasis which establishes early the attitude of the drama- 
tist toward his material, in this case making the play poetic 
comedy. Can any one feel much doubt what form of drama 
is The Importance of Being Earnest ? 5 The first few pages 
show that dialogue is to count heavily as such. Evidently 
the mood is comic. As evidently, there is exaggeration. 
Thus we move from initial farce to the more broadly farcical 
mourning for the death of the supposititious Earnest and to 
the fateful black handbag. If the ending of The Romancers 
be played as it was in London, with the speakers of the last 
lines gradually fading from sight in the dimming lights, 

1 Act iv, Scene «. The Macmillan Co. 

* Contemporary Dramatist*. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston. 
» J. W. Luce & Co., Boston. 

« Translated by May Hendee. Doubleday, McClure & Co., New York. 

• Plays of Oscar Wilde, vol. n. J. W. Luce & Co., Boston. 



206 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

surely that emphasis must mean to the audience that it has 
been seeing a fantasy. 1 

However, as has been said, danger lurks in these places 
of easy emphasis, the beginning and the ending, for at times 
something effective in itself swings the emphasis the wrong 
way. In Masks and Faces, 2 two generations have shed tears 
over the woes of Triplet as meant for "real life," only to be 
somewhat rebuffed when, just before the final curtain, all 
the characters step out of the play for the "Epilogue," and 
so stamp it as "only a story after all." 

In brief, unless some special purpose is subserved thereby, 
an audience should not long be left in the dark as to the 
form in which the dramatist thinks he has cast his play. He 
who treats his material in many different moods runs the 
chance of confusing his hearers. Only by sure and well-placed 
emphasis can he keep his chosen form clear. Particularly is 
this true in the mixed forms, tragi-comedy and farce-comedy. 
Only well-placed emphasis will carry an audience through 
these with just the result desired by the dramatist. 

How decide what to emphasize? Tom Taylor, despising 
the intelligence of audiences of his day, used to say, "When 
you have something to say to an audience, tell them you 
are going to say it. Tell them you 're saying it. Tell them 
you 've said it. Then, perhaps, they '11 understand it." Truth 
probably lies between this and the statement of a dramatist 
of today, "I am re- writing a play originally composed some 
ten years ago. Do you know what I am doing? I am cutting 
and condensing, because the intervening years have taught 
me that I may suggest where I thought I must explain in 
full, and state but once what I thought I must repeat. Au- 
diences are far quicker than ten years ago I supposed them 
to be." Till the training of the dramatist gives him a kind 

1 The Fantasticks, pp. 145-146. Translated by George Fleming. R. H Russell, New 
York. 

• Samuel French, New York. 



ARRANGEMENT 207 

of sixth sense which tells him what in his plot needs empha- 

For his public, he must depend on the comments of really 

intelligent hearers to whom he reads the manuscript and, 

above all, on retouching his play after the first performances. 

It is not enough, however, by clearness and right em- 
phasis to maintain interest: as the play develops, the inter- 
should if possible be increased. Either to maintain or to 
increase interest means that a hearer must be led on from 
scene to scene, act to act, absorbed while the curtain is up 
ami, between the acts, eager for it to rise again. Such atten- 
tion given a play means that it has a third essential quality, 
movement. The plays of tyro dramatists today are often 
sadly lacking in good movement. 

Good movement rests, first of all, on clearness; secondly, 
on right emphasis; and thirdly, on something already men- 
tioned in connection with both clearness and right emphasis, 
— suspense. This means a straining forward of interest, a 
compelling desire to know what will happen next. Whether 
a hearer is totally at a loss to know what will happen, but 
eager to ascertain; partly guesses what will take place, but 
deeply desires to make sure; or almost holds back so greatly 
does he dread an anticipated situation, he is in a state of sus- 
pense, for be it willingly or unwillingly on his part, on sw r eeps 
his interest. 

There should be good movement within the scene, the act, 
and even the play as a whole. It is, however, easily checked. 
If scenes or characters not essential are allowed place within 
a play, it has been shown on pages 87-89 that this may 
interfere with either clearness or good emphasis. They will 
hurt the movement of the play. Closely related as a possible 
danger are necessary scenes not well placed. Often shifting 
part of a scene or act makes all the difference between sus- 
tained and interrupted suspense. For example, a young man, 
after some quarrelsome words, threatens to shoot his sister. 



208 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

As they stand facing each other, steps are heard outside. 
A group which enters brings about an amusing scene. Good 
as it is, it may kill the suspense created by those two tense 
figures, if it switches interest wholly or in large part from 
them. If it does, any effective picking up the scene between 
the angry brother and sister, when the visitors go out, may 
be impossible. On the other hand, so write the scene that 
the audience, never diverted in its attention to those two 
figures, feels that the moment the visitors leave the quar- 
rel will be resumed with greater intensity just because of 
the interruption : then there will be no loss of tension. Just 
here lies the important point: suspense once created must 
never be allowed to lapse so long as to be lost. A scene for 
contrast or to renew the power of desired emotional response 
in the audience or to develop part of a correlated story may 
be introduced, but always what is put between something 
which makes the audience strain forward and its goal should 
leave it as eager, and preferably more eager for the solution. 

A shift in order may do much to increase suspense. When 
Ibsen transferred Rosmer's confession, which is very neces- 
sary to the play, from Act II to the end of Act I, he greatly 
added to the suspense created by the first act. To put it dif- 
ferently, he greatly accelerated the movement of the play. 
An audience, knowing that Rosmeris"an apostate from 
the faith of his fathers," eagerly desires to see what will hap- 
pen to him in such surroundings as those made clear in Act I. 
In the earlier version, a reader learns that there are mys- 
teries which the play will probably solve, but has nothing 
on which to focus his attention as a compelling element of 
suspense. 

Any one knows that when an actor fails to come on at the 
right moment, unless quick-witted actors invent dialogue or 
action, the stage "waits" for the actor. There is something 
which exactly corresponds to this in the text of plays. Henry 



ARRANGEMENT 209 

Le Barron comes to call on Madge Ellsworth. The maid, 
r showing him into the library, goes to find her mistress. 
"Meanwhile Henry looks idly at the books on the table till 
nters" Unless Madge, perfectly sure that Henry 
would call ill this hour, is waiting just outside the door, some 
iction is needed on the stage to cover the time space until 
she can enter naturally. It is true that looking at the 
books fills the time for Henry, but it does not sustain for the 
audience interest already created in him or the story. When 
nothing is taking place on the stage, something is taking 
place in the audience which greatly concerns the dramatist: 
it is slipping away from him because it is losing interest. For 
contrast, suppose that Henry sits restlessly only a moment, 
then with a sigh picks up a book, tries to read, falls to dream- 
ing, and holds the book so that we may see he is reading it 
upside down. He tries another book in vain. He starts three 
or four times, thinking that the door is about to open. He 
absent-mindedly examines a piece of bric-a-brac. He starts 
forward eagerly the moment Madge enters. Now we are in- 
terested, because he is either exhibiting emotions the cause 
of which we understand, emotions which lead us to expect 
an interesting scene between him and Madge, or his conduct 
sets us guessing as to what can lie ahead between the two. In 
the first illustration, the play lacks movement; in the second, 
commonplace as it is, the movement does not cease. 

At times it helps suspense not only to shift the order of 
details but to separate two elements of suspense, treating 
them separately in well correlated groups. In Hamlet, Ql, 
the soliloquy, "To be, or not to be" precedes the meeting of 
Ophelia and Hamlet, part of Hamlet's tricking of Polonius, 
and the coming of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. The 
greater part of the befuddling of Polonius then follows. The 
players enter and plan with Hamlet the performance of 
The Mousetrap. Hamlet, left alone, bursts into the solilo- 



210 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

quy, " Why what a dunghill idiot slave am I ! " Q2 rearranges 
thus: Polonius and Hamlet; Rosencrantz and Guildenstern; 
Polonius returning to announce the players; the planning 
for The Mousetrap; Hamlet left alone crying, "Oh what a 
rogue and peasant's slave am I!" Here all the details bear- 
ing on the play are gathered together. Next come the King 
and Queen with their plot to try out Hamlet by means of 
Ophelia. The soliloquy, "To be, or not to be" follows this. 
Then Hamlet and Ophelia have the scene " To a nunnery go ! " 
Instead of jumbling two elements of suspense, — probable 
results of the play planned by Hamlet and of the Ophelia- 
Hamlet interest, — each is given added suspense by separ- 
ate treatment. In Ql, as we shift from one to the other, each 
weakens the other or is momentarily blocked by it. Rear- 
ranged, the very order of the details in each part makes not 
only for clearer but stronger suspense. 1 

Today a plot made up of two or three but slightly re- 
lated stories is far less popular than in the days of Queen 
Elizabeth. Our public demands that such stories shall be so 
correlated within the play as to be mutually helpful. This 
desire results not from innate niceness of feeling for unity 
of design but from dislike of a distribution of interests which 
interferes with the suspense each story creates. Though it is, 
of course, possible perfectly to maintain suspense in plays 
of interwoven plots — the plays of Shakespeare and many 
writers since prove this — it is far more difficult than main- 1 
taining suspense in a play of single plot. Quite possibly this 
is the chief reason for the great popularity today of plays 
of single plot : they are both easier to follow and easier to 
write. 

A related fault which interferes with suspense is the "stage 
wait" treated on page 209. As has also been pointed out, 
there is danger in transitional scenes meant to cover a time 

1 The Devonshire Hamlets, pp. 34-46. Sampson Low, Son & Co., London. 



ARRANGEMENT 211 

space or to shift the interest of an audience. If they ac- 

iplish either purpose and do not advance the plot, they 

really fail. Bulwer-Lytton met this difficulty in writing 

I think in the first 3 acts you will find little to alter. But in 
\ — the 2 scene with Lady B. & Clara — & Joke & the Trades- 
man don't help on the Plot much — they were wanted, however, 
especially the last to give time for change of dress & smooth the 
of the theme from money to dinner; you will see if this part 
requires any amendment. 1 

Also exposition, undoubtedly necessary but delayed too 
long, may so clog an act as to weaken or kill it. In a play 
set in what was once a fashionable dining-room, but is now 
the fitting-room of a dressmaker, the scene is not placed 
for some time. Finally, a figure entering makes clear the 
supposed setting, but for this the action on stage has to 
be broken off. 

The increasing popularity of a play of three or four acts 
as compared with five has almost wholly done away with 
another destroyer of suspense — the explanatory and adjust- 
ing last act. In it, intelligent auditors who knew from the 
close of the fourth act how the story must end were expected 
to watch with interest final disposition of the characters. 
Dramatists of the eighties and nineties turned from this use 
slowly. For proof examine the last act of The Hypocrites, by 
II. A. Jones, in other respects a play well away from the older 
methods of technique. Now, both the older and the younger 
generation of dramatists expect to carry suspense as near the 
end of the play as they possibly can. Letting an audience 
anticipate something of the end of a play is all very well, but 
when it foresees just what is going to happen and has no 
farther interest, except to learn whether it happens exactly 
as anticipated, suspense and even attention cease. In that 

1 Lettert qf Bulwer-Lytton to Macready, lxui. Braoder Matthews, ed. 



212 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

case an audience begins to gather its belongings for depart- 
ure. Something held back which cannot surely be anticipated 
is the very basis of suspense. 

It follows from what has just been said that there can 
never be perfect suspense when the plot ends an act or more 
before the final curtain. It is vain to try to start new inter- 
ests in order to create fresh suspense. Unless the latter part 
of a play grows out of the first, at least as much as the Per- 
dita-Florizel story grows out of that of Leontes and Hermione, 
there can be no good suspense. When it seems necessary to 
tack on new material because all suspense is ended, do not 
add: rewrite. 

It has often been said that surprise — springing something 
unexpectedly upon an audience — is better than suspense. 
Lessing said of the comparative value of surprise and sus- 
pense: 

For one instance where it is useful to conceal from the specta- 
tor an important event until it has taken place there are ten and 
more where interest demands the very contrary. By means of se- 
crecy a poet effects a short surprise, but in what enduring disquie- 
tude could he have maintained us if he had made no secret about it! 
Whoever is struck down in a moment, I can only pity for a mo- 
ment. But how if I expect the blow, how if I see the storm brewing 
and threatening for some time about my head or his? For my part 
none of the personages need know each other if only the spectator 
knows them all. Nay I would even maintain that the subject which 
requires such secrecy is a thankless subject, that the plot in which 
we have to make recourse to it is not as good as that in which we 
could have done without it. It will never give occasion for any- 
thing great. We shall be obliged to occupy ourselves with prepara- 
tions that are either too dark or too clear, the whole poem becomes 
a collection of little artistic tricks by means of which we effect 
nothing more than a short surprise. If on the contrary everything 
that concerns the personages is known, I see in this knowledge the 
source of the most violent emotions. Why have certain monologues 
such a great effect? Because they acquaint me with the secret in- 
tentions of the speaker and this confidence at once fills me with 



ARRANGEMENT 213 

h<.f*> <r fear. If the condition of the personages is unknown, the 

spectator cannot interest himself more vividly in the action than 
{>ersonages. But the interest would be doubled for the spec- 
; if light is thrown on the matter, and he feels that action and 

speech w< >nl< I l>e quite otherwise if the personages knew one another. 
Only then I shall scarcely be able to await what is to become of 

them when I am able to compare that which they really are with 

that which they do or would do. 1 

Look at the quotation from the First Pari of Henry VI on 
V\ >. !)?-100. Talbot whispers to the Captain, and leaves us 
guessing what he means to do at his meeting with the Count- 
ess of Auvergne. In like manner the Countess merely refers 
to t lie plot she has laid with her Porter. We never know just 
what was the plan of the Countess. We get only a momen- 
tary sensation, surprise, when Talbot's soldiers force their way 
in. Suppose we had been allowed to know the plans of the 
Countess, and they had seemed very dangerous for Talbot. 
Then, as she played with him, sure of her position, there 
would have been more suspense than in Shakespeare's text, 
because an audience would have been wondering, not merely 
"What is the blow Talbot will strike?" but "Can any blow 
he will strike overcome the seemingly effective plans of the 
Countess? " Suppose we had been allowed to know the plans 
of both. Then, as we watched the Countess playing her 
scheme off against the plan of Talbot, of which she would be 
unaware, might there not easily be even more suspense? At 
every turn of their dialogue we should be wondering: "Why 
does not Talbot strike now? Can he save the situation, if he 
delays? With all this against him, can he save it in any case?" 
In the use of surprise, the dramatist depends almost entirely 
on his situation. Suspense permits him to elaborate his situ- 
ation by means of the characters in it. In other words, sur- 
prise is situation, suspense is characterization. 

On this matter recent words of William Archer seem final : 

1 Hamburg Dramaturgy, p. 377. Leasing. Bobn, ed. 



214 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

Curiosity [I said] is the accidental relish of a single night; whereas 
the essential and abiding pleasure of the theatre lies in foreknowl- 
edge. In relation to the characters of the drama, the audience are 
as gods looking before and after. Sitting in the theatre, we taste, 
for a moment, the glory of omniscience. With vision unsealed, 
we watch the gropings of purblind mortals after happiness and 
smile at their stumblings, their blunders, their futile quests, their 
misplaced exultations, their groundless panics. To keep a secret 
from us is to reduce us to their level, and deprive us of our clairvoy- 
ant aloofness. There may be a pleasure in that too; we may join 
with zest in the game of blind-man's-buff; but the theatre is in 
its essence a place where we are privileged to take off the bandage 
we wear in daily life, and to contemplate, with laughter or with 
tears, the blindfold gambols of our neighbors. 1 

What is basal in suspense is, of course, that an audience 
shall feel for some person or persons of the play just the de- 
gree of sympathy the dramatist desires. Unless their sym- 
pathy is as keen as his, the scene must fall short emotionally. 
For instance, in a play produced some years ago author and 
actors expected the audience to sympathize throughout with 
a mother. At the climax of one of the acts she was left on-stage 
in an agonized state of mind because her husband, who hates 
her illegitimate child, has left the stage with threats to kill 
it. The actress wrote of the first night: "In that scene I 
might as well have recited the alphabet for all the audience 
cared for my emotion. Their sympathy made them live, 
not with me, but with the defenceless child who at any mo- 
ment might be murdered off-stage by the cruel father." Sus- 
pense for the audience there certainly was, but not of the 
kind intended. It was necessary to rewrite the scene. 

Evidently, what happens off-stage may, by its greater in- 
terest for the audience, kill the effect of what is passing on- 
stage. Wliat the dramatist dares not try to represent on- 
stage because of its mechanical difficulty or horror, he tries 
to carry off by vivid and even terrifying description. By 

1 Play-Making, pp. 171-172. William Archer. Small, Maynard & Co., Boston. 



ARRANGEMENT 215 

making the audience see the off-stage action through the eyes 
of the person most affected, or by portraying vividly his emo- 
tions when another describes the action to him, dramatists 
endeavor to lose none of their desired suspense. The point 
to remember is that the moment the off-stage action becomes 
of more importance than the emotions caused by that ac- 
tion for persons on-stage, the real centre of interest has been 
shifted, the desired suspense is gone, and the scene must 
be rewritten. Suspense in a play is rightly handled, then, 
when it is promptly created to the extent desired by the 
dramatist; carries on with increasing intensity from act to 
act ; and reaches its climax at or just before the final curtain. 
Climax is, therefore, an integral part of suspense. The 
point of greatest intensity reached in an incident, scene, act, 
or play is the moment of climax. Climax is not the result of 
theory but comes from long observation of audiences. A 
scene or act which breaks off or declines in interest towards 
its close never delights an audience as does a scene or act 
which closes with its strongest emotional effect. Look at the 
ending of The Troublesome Raigne of King John, Part I. 
Though King John declares himself "the joyfulst man 
alive," the audience does not so sympathize with him that 
his delight is a fitting climax to the play. Rather do they 
so keenly sympathize with Prince Arthur and even the lords 
who have been outraged by Arthur's proposed death that 
they want to know more of him and them. 

Hubert. My lord, attend the happie tale I tell, 
For heauens health «end Sathan packing hence 
That instigates your Highnes to despaire. 
If Arthurs death be dismall to be heard, 
Bandie the newes for rumors of vnthruth: 
He Hues my Lord, the sweetest youth aliue, 
In health, with eyesight, not a hair amisse. 
This hart tooke vigor from this froward hand, 
Making it weake to execute your charge. 



216 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

Iohn. What, Hues he! Then sweete hope come home agen, 
Chase hence despaire, the purueyor for hell. 
Hye Hubert, tell these tidings to my Lords 
That throb in passions for yong Arthurs death: 
Hence Hubert, stay not till thou hast reueald 
The wished newes of Arthurs happy health. 
I go my seife, the joyfulst man aliue 
To storie out this new supposed crime. (Exeunt.) 1 

The author, though he got from this a suspense which 
carried his audience over to the performance of Part II on 
the next day, missed any real climax for Part I. 

Inexperienced playwrights, in spite of good characteriza- 
tion and dialogue, frequently do not understand the value 
and the nature of real climax. Consequently, an audience 
feels that any interest it has given is cheated in the end. The 
following scenario, though its feebleness can hardly be 
traced solely to lack of climax, illustrates what is meant. 

THE DEBUTANTE 

Characters: 

Major Worthington, an American financier; 
EmilRichter, a young poet; 

'.J, „ ' !• who do "team work" for the hand of Kitty. 

Kitty Worthington, the dSbutante. 

Mme. Cavanaugh King, a widow, Kitty's aunt. 

SCENE: Den, off the ballroom of Major Worthington' s home. Mu- 
sic from the ballroom is heard intermittently during the action. 

DISCOVERED: A group of guests who chatter and pass out, leav- 
ing Squeam and Van Metre. They talk of the attractions of Kitty, the 
dSbutante, and make a wager as to who will win out. Each agrees to 
back the other up in case of failure. They go off as Mrs. King and 
Major Worthington enter. She reproves her brother for looking tired 
and uninterested on this occasion of his daughter's "coming out. ,y 

1 The Troublesome Raigne of King Iohn, pp. 279-280; Shakespeare's Library, vol. v. Reevei 
& Turner, London. 



ARRANGEMENT 217 

At length, exhausted by his sister* s flippancy, he tells her that they are 
financially ruined, and that the crash will come on the morrow. Mrs. 

! is distracted, but they both brighten as Kitty enters in a whirl. 

is radiantly happy, and hugs one and then the other, then both. 

let Rickter, a stalwart young westerner, who does not know how to 

dance. They congratulate him on his little volume of verses which has 

been published. After promising to sit out a dance with him t 
Kitty sends him off to talk with Miss Smithkins. He picks up a rose 

■h Kitty has dropped and goes off with it. Enter Dr. Van Metre 
and Squeam. Exeunt Major Worthington and Mrs. King. Van 
Metre and Squeam take turns in proposing to Kitty. Enter Mrs. 
King, to whom Squeam finds himself making violent love, mistaking 
for Kitty. He starts to bolt, but she lays hold of him, and they go 
off together. Kitty and Van Metre go off to dance, she laughing at his 
ardent protestations. Enter Major. He takes out a revolver from his 
writing desk, and puts it back as some dancers pass through. Enter 
Emit, and the two exeunt arm-in-arm. Enter Mrs. King and Kitty. 
Mrs. King bluntly tells Kitty their financial straits, and adds that 
Kitty must give up any sentimental feelings she has for RicJUer, and 
must, if she gets the chance, accept Van Meter or Squeam on the spot. 
With this, she hastily departs, leaving Kitty in tears. The tears turn 
to dimples the moment Richter appears, and she tries to shock him into 
a dislike for her. Nevertheless, he makes a clumsy effort at proposing 
which is interrupted by Van Metre, then Squeam, then both, who insist 
on taking her to supper. She dismisses them. (Soft music.) Richter 
proposes, and Kitty refuses him, telling him the reason frankly, as 
her aunt has just given it to her. He reprimands her for having mer- 
cenary motives, and makes an eloquent plea for the equality of men. 
Enraged, she leaves the room, but quickly returns and throws herself 
into his arms. Enters Mrs. King hastily, and says they may go right 
on embracing, as the Major has just received a telegram stating that he 
has won out in a law suit involving millions of dollars* worth of iron 
mines. Enter the Major hilarious. Enter Squeam and Van Meter. 
They shake hands and declare the wager off. Enter the dancers from 
a cotillion figure. They are arrayed in grotesque paper hats and bon- 
nets and garlands of paper flowers. They circle about Kitty and Rich- 
ter, and pelt them with paper flowers. Exeunt. Tableau: Kitty and 
Richter looking into firelight. 

Curtain. 

Obviously, though some slight suspense has been created 



218 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

as to the possible solution of Kitty's difficulties, the proposed 
play goes all to pieces the moment Mrs. King enters with 
her news. When an audience knows that had the dramatist 
so willed, the fateful telegram might have arrived at any 
moment in the play other than the point chosen, it is likely 
to vote unanimously that the telegram should have been 
received before the curtain was ever rung up. Except in 
amateur performances arranged for admiring friends, there 
is no hope that such a fizzle can be covered by introducing 
dancers to make a pretty picture and a pseudo-climax. 

Climax is, then, whatever in action, speech, pantomime, 
or thought (whether conveyed or suggested) will produce 
in an audience the strongest emotion of the scene, act, or 
play. 

The means to climax range from mere action to quiet 
speech, from pure theatricality to lifelike subtlety. The 
poisoned cup, the fatal duel, indeed, the general slaughter at 
the end of Hamlet make a tremendous climax of action. Mere 
action, however, does not necessarily give climax. The writer 
of the scenario just quoted, missing a real climax, tried to 
offset this by the gay dance. Whether a dance, parade, or 
tableau is a genuine climax depends on whether it illustrates 
attainment of that in regard to which suspense has been 
created. No mere dance in costume, no spectacular parade 
or brilliant tableau is ever an adequate substitute for a cli- 
max which brings to the greatest intensity emotionalized 
interest already awakened in an audience. Such climax 
by action may, then, be as purely theatrical as in revues, 
much musical comedy, or pure melodrama, or as simple and 
true as in Heijermans* The Good Hope. The women, Joe and 
Kneirtje, are left alone, wild with anxiety for their fisherman- 
lover and son. A storm rages outside. 

Jo. {Beating her head on the table.) The wind! It drives me 
mad, mad! 



ARRANGEMENT 219 

Kncirtje. (Opens the prayerbook, touches Jo's arm. Jo looks up, 

sobbing passionately, sees the prayerbook, shakes her head fiercely. 

Again wailing, drops to the floor, which she beats with her hands. 

rtje's trembling voice sounds.) O Merciful God ! I trust! With 

a firm faith, I trust. 

(The wind races with wild lashings about the house.) 
Curtain. 1 

Climax may come through surprise, as the discussion of 
su>i>ense shows (pp. 212-214). Such surprise may be theat- 
rical, as in Home 2 where it is obviously an arranged effect, 
or genuinely dramatic because justified by the preceding 
characterization, as in The Clod, 

(Mary goes to the cupboard; returns to the table with the salt. Almost 
ready to drop, she drags herself to the window nearer back, and leans 
against it, watching the Southerners like a hunted animal. Thaddeus 
sits nodding in the corner. The Sergeant and Dick go on devouring 
food. The Sergeant pours the coffee. Puts his cup to his lips, takes 
one swallow; then, jumping to his feet and upsetting his chair as he does 
so, he hurls his cup to the floor. The crash of china stirs Thaddeus. 
Mary shakes in terror.) 

Sergeant. (Bellowing and pointing to the fluid trickling on the 
floor.) Have you tried to poison us, you God damn hag? 

(Mary screams, and the faces of the men turn white. It is 
like the cry of the animal goaded beyond endurance.) 
Mary. (Screeching.) Call my coffee poison, will ye? Call me a 
hag? I'll learn ye! I'm a woman, and ye're drivin' me crazy. 

(Snatches the gun from the wall, points it at the Sergeant, 
and fires. Keeps on screeching. The Sergeant falls to the 
floor. Dick rushes for his gun.) 
Thaddeus. Mary! Mary! 

Mary. (Aiming at Dick, and firing.) I ain't a hag. I'm a woman, 
but ye're killin' me. 

(Dick falls fust as he reaches his gun. Thaddeus is in the 
corner with his hands over his ears. Mary continues to 
pull the trigger of the empty gun. The Northerner is 
motionless for a moment ; then he goes to Thaddeus, and 
shakes him.) 

1 The Good Dope. Act m. Herman Heijermans. The Drama, November, 1912. 
1 See pp. 48-30. 



220 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

Northerner. Go get my horse, quick! 

(Thaddeus obeys. The Northerner turns to Mary. She gazes 
at him, but does not understand a word he says.) 
Northerner. (With great fervor.) I'm ashamed of what I said. 
The whole country will hear of this, and you. 

(Takes her hand, and presses it to his lips; then turns and 

hurries out of the house. Mary still holds the gun in her 

hand. She pushes a strand of gray hair back from her 

face, and begins to pick up the fragments of the broken 

coffee cup.) 

Mary. (In dead, fiat tone.) I'll have to drink out the tin cup now. 

(The hoof -beats of the Northerner's horse are heard.) 

Curtain. 1 

Note the wholly unexpected turn after the final speech 
of the Northerner. Yet this surprise merely rounds out the 
characterization of Mary. 

This kind of climax by surprise recalls one of the principles 
in acting which Joseph Jefferson laid down for himself: 
"Never anticipate a strong effect; in fact, lead your audi- 
ence by your manner, so that they shall scarcely suspect the 
character capable of such emotion; then when some sudden 
blow has fallen, the terrible shock prepares the audience for 
a new and striking phase in the character; they feel that 
under these new conditions you would naturally exhibit the 
passion which till then was not suspected." 2 

Before the present insistence on reality held sway, it was 
possible to close a play of pretended truth to life with a tag. 
Here is the quiet ending of Still Waters Run Deep (1855) : 

Potter. My dear boy, you astonish me! But, however, there's 
an old proverb that says that "All is not gold that glitters.'* 

MUdmay. Yes, and there is another old proverb and one much 
more to the purpose that says, "Still waters run deep." 

The convention which made that sort of ending desirable 

1 Washington Square Plays; The Clod. Lewis Beach. Drama League Series, No. XX. 
Doubleday, Page & Co., New York. 

* The Autobiography of Joseph Jeferson, pp. 210-211. Century Co., New York. 






ARRANGEMENT 221 

has passed. However, today another convention, — the 
quiet ending, — might make it possible to end this same play 
with the speech just preceding the two quoted. 

Patter. John Mildmay the master of this house? Emily, my 
dear, has your aunt been — I mean has your aunt lost her wits? 

Mrs. Mildmay. No, she has found them, papa, as I have done, 
thanks to dear John. Ask his pardon, papa, as we have, for the 
cruel injustice we have done him. 

Potter. Oh, certainly, if you desire it. John Mildmay, I ask your 
pardon — Jane and Emily say I ought; though what I have done, 
or what there is to ask pardon for — 

Mildmay. Perhaps you'll learn in time. But we're forgetting 
dinner — Langford, will you take my wife? {He does so.) Markham, 
you'll take Mrs. Sterahold? l 

Add to this, "They all go out to dinner," and you have 
one of the "quiet endings" dear to the hearts of some recent 
dramatists. These writers, after an act has swept to a strong 
emotional height, add some very quiet ending such as going 
out to dinner or the conventional farewells of the group as- 
sembled, as if for some reason either were more artistic than 
to close on the moment of strong emotion. This is bad. On 
the other hand, if the quiet ending carries characterization, 
or irony, to point the scene, act, or play, or really illustrates 
the meaning, this and not the absence of strong emotion or 
physical action is what gives both real value and genuine 
climax. For instance, at the end of Act I of Monsieur 
Poirier's Son-in-Law, by Augier, this is the dialogue: 

Enter a Servant. 

Servant. Dinner is served. 

Poirier. (To the Servant.) Bring up a bottle of 1811 Pomard — 
(To the Duke.) The year of the comet, Monsieur le due — fifteen 
francs a bottle! The king drinks no better. (Aside to Verdelet.) 
You mustn't drink any — neither will I! 

Gaston. (To the Duke.) Fifteen francs, bottle to be returned 
when empty! 

» The DeWitt Publishing House, New York. 



222 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

Verdelet. {Aside to Poirier.) Are you going to allow him to make 
fun of you like that? 

Poirier. (Aside to Verdelet.) In matters of this sort, you must- 
take your time. (They all go out.) 

Curtain. 1 

Here it is not the quietude but the particularly apt, humor- 
ous illustration of Poirier 's character which gives climax. 
In The Amazons, too, what could better illustrate acceptance 
of the usual by all the group who have been fighting against 
it than the sedate and utterly commonplace exeunt? 

Lady Castle Jordan. Lord Tweenwayes — 

(Tweenwayes comes with great dignity to Lady Castlejordan. 
The girls fall back.) 
Lady Castlejordan. Lord Litterly — Lady Noeline. Monsieur de 
Grival — Lady Wilhelmina. Mr. Minchin — Lady Thomasin. 

(The couples are formed, and all go out sedately.) 2 

When quiet speech sums up the whole meaning of a scene 
or play, it too gives climax. Ann's words at the end of Man 
and Superman, "John you are still talking," make a fine 
ironic climax. Irony, whether quiet or decidedly dramatic, is 
a very effective means to climax. At the end of Act II, Herod, 
in the play of that name by Stephen Phillips, has ordered 
Mariamne killed. Completely infatuated by her, he has done 
this only when her enemies have forced him to believe that 
she is utterly false. Almost instantly his love overwhelms his 
mistrust. He tries to revoke his word, crying, 

Yet will I not be bound, I will break free, 

She shall not die — she shall not die — she shall not — 

News of the triumph he has longed for interrupts: 
Enter Attendant. 
Attendant. O king, the Roman eagles! See! 
A cry. (Without.) From Rome! 

1 Monsieur Poirier's Son-in-Law, Act i. Emile Augier. Translated by B. H. Clark. 
A. Knopf, New York. 

1 The Amazons, Act in. Sir Arthur Pinero. Walter H. Baker & Co., Boston. 



ARRANGEMENT 223 

Enter Roman Envoy and Suite. 
ty. O king, great Caesar sent us after you, 
But, though we posted fast, you still outran us. 
Thus then by won! of mouth great Caesar greets 

I his friend. But he would not confine 
That friendship to the easy spoken word. 
And hear I bear a proof of Caesar's faith. 
Herein is added to thy boundaries 
II;[>l>o. Samaria and Gadara, 

high-walled Joppa, and Anthedon's shore, 
And Gaza unto these, and Straton's towers. (Mores down.) 

II the scroll, with Caesar's own hand signed. 

Herod. ( Taking the scroll — at foot of steps.) Mariamne, hear you 
this? Mariamne, see you? (Turns to look at scroll.) 

(Servant enters and moves down to Gadias down L.) 
(He goes up the stairs.) 
Hippo, Samaria and Gadara, 
And high-walled Joppa, and Anthedon's shore, 
And Gaza unto these, and Straton's towers. 

Servant. (Aside to Gadias.) O sir, the queen is dead! 

Gadias. (Aside to Pheroras, Cypros, and Salome.) The queen is 
dead! 

Herod. Mariamne, hear you this? Mariamne, see you? 

(Repeating the words, and going up steps.) 
Hippo, Samaria and Gadara, 

And high-walled Joppa, and Anthedon, 04s he moves up.) 

And Gaza unto these, and Straton's towers! 1 

The perfect climax lies in the irony of the fact that all 
Herod most desires as ruler comes to him at just the moment 
when he has killed the thing that most he loved. 

At the end of Act III of Chains, by Elizabeth Baker, 
everybody — the father-in-law and mother-in-law, Percy, 
the brother-in-law, and Sybil, a pretty but useless bit of 
femininity — has been making Charlie entirely miserable 
because no one can understand that his expressed desire to 
try his fortunes in Australia and then send for his wife, 

1 Herod, A Tragedy, Act. u. Stephen Phillips. John Lane, New York. 



224 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

Lily, is not a pretext for abandoning her. Percy, with next 
to nothing a year, is just engaged to Sybil. Foster wants 
to marry Margaret, Charlie's sister-in-law, who is dissatis- 
fied with her lot. 

Enter Lily, dressed for going out, also Mrs. Massey. Lily goes 
round, kissing and shaking hands, with a watery smile and a 
forced tearful cheerfulness. 

Charley. {Without going all around and calling from the door.) 
Good night, all! {Exeunt Lily and Charley.) 

Mrs. Massey. Well, I must say — 

Percy. O, let's drop it, mother. Play something, Maggie. 

Maggie. I don't want to. 

Mrs. Massey. Walter would like to hear something, wouldn't 
you, Walter? 

Foster. If Maggie feels like it. 

Maggie. She doesn't feel like it. 

Massey. Be as pleasant as you can, my girl — Charley's enough 
for one evening. 

{Maggie goes to the piano and sitting down plays noisily, 
with both pedals on, the chorus, "Off to Philadelphia") 

Mrs. Massey. Maggie, it's Sunday! 

Maggie. I forgot! 

Mrs. Massey. You shouldn't forget such things — Sybil, my 
dear — 

Sybil. I don't play. 

Massey. Rubbish! Come on! 

{Sybil goes to the piano and Percy follows her.) 

Percy. {Very near to Sybil and helping her to find the music.) 
Charley is a rotter! What d'ye think he was telling me the other 
day? 

Sybil. I don't know. 

Percy. Told me to be sure I got the right girl. 

Sybil. Brute! 

Percy. What do you think I said? Darling! 

(Kisses her behind music.) 

Massey. (Looking around.) Take a bigger sheet. 

(Sybil sits at piano quickly and plays the chorus to "Count 
Your Many Blessings" To which they all sing:) 



ARRANGEMENT 225 

Count your many blessings, count them one by one, 
Count your hlcssirms, sc<- what God has done. 
Count your blessings, count tliem one by one, 
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done. 1 

1^ not the irony of this group of unsatisfied or dissatisfied 
people singing " Count your many blessings," fully cli- 
mactic? 

Not quietness of speech or action, then, but appropri- 
ateness makes any of these approved endings climactic and 
artistic. 

There can hardly be any question that the original ending 
of Still Waters Run Deep is theatrical in the sense that it is 
climactic only by the dramatic convention of its time. Ex- 
cept when theatricality is intentionally part of the artistic 
design, it is, of course, undesirable. Rostand, letting the 
figures in The Romancers comment on their own play as 
a kind of epilogue, has a really artistic though theatrical 
climax. 

Sykette. (Summoning the actors abovt her.) And now we five — 
if Master Straforel please — 
Let us expound the play in which we've tried to please. 

(She comes down stage and addresses the audience, marking 
time with her hand.) 
Light, easy rhymes; old dresses, frail and light; 
Love in a park, fluting an ancient tune. (Soft music.) 

Bergamin. A fairy-tale quintet, mad as Midsummer-night. 

Pasquin. Some quarrels. Yes! — but all so very slight! 

Straforel. Madness of sunstroke; madness of the moon! 
A worthy villain, in his mantle dight. 

Sylvette. Light, easy rhymes; old dresses, frail and light; 
Love in a park, fluting an ancient tune. 

Percinet. A Watteau picture — not by Watteau, quite; 
Release from many a dreary Northern rune; 
Lovers and fathers; old walls, flowery-bright; 
A brave old plot — with music — ending soon. 

1 J. W. Luce & Co., Boston; Sidgwick & Jackson, Ltd., London. 



226 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

Sylvette. Light, easy rhymes; old dresses, frail and light. 

(The stage gradually darkens; the last lines are delivered in 
voices that grow fainter as the actors appear to fade away 
into mist and darkness.) 

Curtain. 1 

So light the finale, as in London, that the figures fade 
from sight till only their voices are faintly heard, and theat- 
ricality helps to place the play as a mere bit of fantasy. On 
the other hand, there is something like genuine theatrical- 
ity at the end of Sudermann's Fritzschen. Fritz is going to 
his death in a prospective duel with a man who is an unerr- 
ing shot. Though the others present suspect or know the 
truth, his mother thinks he is going to new and finer fortunes. 
Isn't the following the real climax? 

Fritz. (Stretching out his hand to her cheerfully^) Dear Ag — 
(Looks into her face, and understands that she knows. Softly, ear- 
nestly.) Farewell, then. 

Agnes. Farewell, Fritz! 

Fritz. I love you. 

Agnes. I shall always love you, Fritz! 

Fritz. Away, then, Hallerpfort! Au revoir, papa! Au revoir! 
Revoir! (Starts for the door on the right.) 

Fran von Drosse. Go by the park, boys — there I have you 
longer in sight. 

Fritz. Very well, mamma, we will do it! (Passes with Haller- 
pfort through the door at the centre; on the terrace, he turns with a cheer- 
ful gesture, and calls once more.) Au Revoir! (His voice is still au- 
dible.) Au revoir! 

(Frau von Drosse throws kisses after him, and waves her 
handkerchief then presses her hand wearily to her iieart 
and sighs heavily.) 2 

Because the history of the theatre shows that the con- 
tained appeal always moves an audience, Sudermann adds 

1 The Fantasticks, Act in. Edmond Rostand. Translated by Geo. Fleming. R. H. Rus- 
■ell&Co, New York. 

» Morituri, Fritzschen, Hennan-Sudermann. Translated by Archibald Alexander. Copy- 
right, 1910, by Chas. Scribner's Sons, New York. 



ARRANGEMENT 227 

one more touch of misery as the mother dweUs on her dream 
of the night before: 

(Agnes hurries to her, and leads her to a chair, then goes over 

to the Major, who, with heaving breast, is lost in thought.) 

Frau ron Drosse. Thank you, my darling! — Already, I am quite 

well again! . . . God, the boy! How handsome he looked! And so 

brown and so healthy. . . . You see, I saw him exactly like that 

list night. . . . No, that is no illusion! And I told you how the 

ieror led him in among all the generals! And the Emperor 

— {More softly, looking far away with a beatific smile.) And 

the Emperor said — 

Curtain. 1 

Though a new twist is given our emotions, is not something 
lost to the artistry of the play? 

If the means to climax be various, the ways in which it 
may elude a writer are several. If an audience foresees it, 
much of the value of climax, perhaps all, disappears. Bulwer- 
Lytton, in writing Money , recognized this: 

And principally with regard to Act 5 I don't feel easy. The first 
idea suggested by you & worked on by me was of course to carry 
on Evelyn's trick to the last — & bring in the creditors &c when it 
is discovered that he is as rich as ever. I so made Act 5 at first. 
But . . . the trick was so palpable to the audience that having been 
carried thro' Acts 3 & 4, it became stale in Act 5 — & the final dis- 
covery was much less comic than you w<? suppose. 2 

If anticipating a climax will impair it for an audience, re- 
petition may kill it. In the civic masque, Caliban, 3 as per- 
formed, many of the historical scenes were introduced in 
the same way: Ariel asked his master, Prospero, w T hat he 
should show him next, and at his bidding summoned the 
episode. No variety in phrasing could surmount the monot- 
ony of this. There was consequent loss in suspense and 
climax. 

» Idem. 

* Letter* qf Bulvxr-Lytton to Macready, Brooder Matthews, ed. 

» Doubleday, Page & Co., New York. 



228 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

It is easy, also, to miss possible climax by using more at a 
given point than is absolutely necessary. Sometimes it is 
wiser to postpone part or all of thoroughly desirable material 
for later treatment. In the novel, Les Oberle y l father and 
daughter sympathize with the Germans, mother and son 
with the old French tradition. In patriarchal fashion, the 
half-paralytic grandfather, as head of the house, keeps the 
keys. When a young German officer, favored by the daugh- 
ter, asks her hand, feeling becomes intense and strained 
between the parents and the brother and the sister. Sud- 
denly the old paralytic enters, half-supported by his at- 
tendant. Furious to think of his granddaughter as the wife 
of a German he cries, with a superb gesture of dismissal, 
"Clear out! This is my house!" (Vat' en! Id chez moi!) 
The dramatizer saw that with the accompanying action 
of all concerned, especially the silent going of the German 
suitor, "Ici chez moi" made a sufficient climax. Therefore, 
with a touch of real genius, he saved the " Va t'en" for a cli- 
max to a totally different scene. Later in the play, Jean, 
who has determined to escape across the French bound- 
ary rather than serve longer in the German army, has been 
locked in his room by his outraged father. As usual, after 
the house has been locked up for the night, the keys have 
been handed to the old, half -paralytic grandfather, who lies 
sleepless in a room near Jean's. Learning from Uncle Ulrich 
what has occurred, the grandfather totters into the living- 
room with his keys. Unlocking Jean's door, with a fine ges- 
ture of affection, and command toward the outer door, he 
cries to Jean, "Va." Here the dramatist gets two fine cli- 
maxes where the novelist gained but one. 

Sometimes a very effective climax at a given point should 
be postponed because it will be even more effective later, 

1 Les OberlS. Ren6 Bazin. Dramatized by E. Haraucourt. L'Dlustration The&trale, De» 
cenaber 9, 1905, p. 14. 



ARRANGEMENT 229 

aril if given the first position would check preferable move- 
ment in the play. At the end of Act IV of Magda (Heimat) 
\)\- Sudermann, we seem all ready for a scene in which Magda 
confesses the truth about her past life to her father. 

Schwartze. Magda, — I want Magda. 

Marie. (Goes to the door and opens it.) She's coming now, — 
down the stairs. 
' irartze. So! (Pulls himself together with an effort.) 
Marie. (Clasping her hands.) Don't hurt her! 

(Pauses with the door open. Magda is seen descending the 
stairs. She enters in travelling dress, hat in hand, very 
pale but calm.) 
Magda. I heard you call, father. 
Schwartze. I have something to say to you. 
Magda. And I to you. 
Schwartze. Go in, — into my room. 
Magda. Yes, father. 

(She goes to the door left. Schwartze follows her. Marie, 
who has drawn back frightened to the dining-room, makes 
an unseen gesture of entreaty.) l 

Now, any interview between Magda and her father will 
both unduly lengthen an act already long and bring the 
play well into its final climax. Stopping the act here creates 
superb suspense. Starting a new act under slightly differ- 
ent conditions keeps all the suspense created by Act IV 
and intensifies it by new details. The new act gives us the 
chance easily to introduce von Keller, who is needed if the 
play is to be more than another treatment of the erring 
daughter confessing her sin to her father. Just through him 
comes emphasis which gives special meaning to the play. 
Therefore, we gain by postponing the full confession from 
the end of Act IV till well toward the end of Act V. 

Evidently, climax rests on (a) right feeling for order in 
presenting ideas ; (6) a correct sense of what is weaker and what 
is stronger in phrasing emotions; and (c) just appreciation of 

1 Magda. Translated by C. E. A. Winslow. Lamson, Wolffe & Co., Boston. 






2 3 



DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 



the feeling of the audience toward the emotions presented. 
For both clearness and climax it is usually a wise rule to con- 
sider but one idea at a time. In the following illustration, 
column 1 shows confusion, because three subjects — the fan, 
the greeting, and the compliment of Lady Windermere — 
are started at the same time. In column 2, quoted from 
Miss Anglin's acting version of Lady Windermere' 's Fan, 
treating each of these subjects in its natural sequence brings 
both clearness and climax. 



Parker. Mrs. Erlynne. 

{Lord Windermere starts. 
Mrs. Erlynne enters, very 
beautifully dressed and 
very dignified. Lady Win- 
dermere clutches at her 
fan, then lets it drop on the 
floor. She bows coldly to 
Mrs. Erlynne, who bows 
to her sweetly in turn, and 
sails into the room.) 
Lord Darlington. You have 
dropped your fan, Lady Win- 
dermere. 

(Picks it up and hands it to 

her.) 

Mrs. Erlynne. (C.) How do 

you do again, Lord Windermere? 

How charming your sweet wife 

looks! Quite a picture! 

Lord Windermere. (In a low 
voice.) It was terribly rash of 
you to come! 

Mrs. Erlynne. (Smiling.) The 
wisest thing I ever did in my 
life. And, by the way, you must 
pay me a good deal of attention 
this evening. 



Parker. Mrs. Erlynne. 

(Lord Windermere starts. 
Mrs. Erlynne enters, very 
beautifully dressed, and 
very dignified. Lady Win- 
dermere clutches at her 
fan, then lets it drop on the 
floor. She bows coldly to 
Mrs. Erlynne, who bows 
to her sweetly in turn, 
and sails into the room.) 
Mrs. Erlynne. (C.) How do 
you do again, Lord Winder- 
mere? 

Lord Darlington. You have 
dropped your fan, Lady Win- 
dermere. 

(Picks it up, and hands it to 
her.) 
Lord Windermere. (In a low 
voice.) It was terribly rash of 
you to come! 

Mrs. Erlynne. (Smiling.) The 
wisest thing I ever did in my life. 
How charming your sweet wife 
looks! Quite a picture ! And, by 
the way, you must pay me a good 
deal of attention this evening. 1 



1 Lady Windermere's Fan, Act n. Oscar Wilde. Acting version as arranged by Miss Mar- 
garet Anglin. 



ARRANGEMENT 



2 2> l 



In the next extract, note that omission of "I want to 
live childless still" and shifting the position of the words 
r t wenty years, as you say, I have lived childless" per- 
mit an actress to work up to the strongest climax of the 
ech, when spoken, "They made me suffer too much." 
Miss Anglin, trained by years of experience to great sensi- 
tiveness to the emotional values of words, has here arranged 
the sentences better than the author himself. 



Windermere. What do 
you mean by coming here this 
morning? What is your object? 
(Crossing L. C. and sitting.) 
Iff*. Erlynne. (With a note of 
irony in her voice.) To bid good- 
bye to my dear daughter, of 
course. (Lord Windermere bites 
his underlip in anger. Mrs. Er- 
lynne looks at him, and her voice 
and manner become serious. In 
her accents as she talks there is a 
note of deep tragedy. For a mo- 
ment she reveals herself.) Oh, 
don't imagine I am going to have 
a pathetic scene with her, weep 
on her neck and tell her who I 
am, and all that kind of thing. 
I have no ambition to play the 
part of mother. Only once in my 
life have I known a mother's 
feelings. That was last night. 
They were terrible — they made 
me suffer — they made me suffer 
too much. For twenty years, 
as you say, I have lived child- 
less — I want to live childless 
still. 



Lord Windermere. What do 

you mean by coming here this 

morning? What is your object? 

(Crossing L. C. and sitting.) 

Mrs. Erlynne. (With a note of 
irony in her voice.) To bid good- 
bye to my dear daughter, of 
course. (Lord Windermere bites 
his underlip in anger. Mrs. Er- 
lynne looks at him, and her voice 
and manner become serious. In 
her accents as she talks there is a 
note of deep tragedy. For a mo- 
ment she reveals herself.) Oh, 
don't imagine I am going to 
have a pathetic scene with her, 
weep on her neck and tell her 
who I am, and all that kind of 
thing. I have no ambition to 
play the part of mother. For 
twenty years, as you say, I have 
lived childless. Only once in my 
life have I known a mother's 
feelings. That was last night. 
They were terrible — they made 
me suffer — they made me suffer 
too much. 1 



Idem, Act iv. Acting version as arranged by Miss Margaret Anglin. 



232 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

When an eighteenth-century manager, in his production of 
The School for Scandal, had colored fire set off in the wings 
as the falling screen revealed Lady Teazle, he failed of his in- 
tended effect because he thought that for his audience the 
falling of the screen was climactic. Really, of course, the en- 
joyment of the audience, as it listens to the dialogue, know- 
ing that Lady Teazle overhears, is the chief source of pleas- 
ure. It is the dismay of Sir Peter, when he sees who is really 
behind the screen, which makes the climax. That dismay is 
not greater against a background of red fire. Crowded with 
action as the end of Hamlet is, we close it in acting, not on 
the fatal wounding of Hamlet, but either on his words, " The 
rest is silence/ ' or as the soldiers of Fortinbras march out 
with Hamlet's body on their shields. Experience has proved 
that a stronger climax for an audience lies in those words or 
in seeing the procession which passes among the kneeling 
courtiers, stronger than from all the noisy emotions which 
have just preceded. In brief, except when we feel sure that 
we have made our feeling as to the emotions of a scene or act 
the public's, it is they who must determine where the climax 
lies. Where it rests we must in all cases of doubt decide from 
our past experience of the public and present observation of it. 

From all these illustrations it must be clear that the only 
rule for finding climax is : Understand clearly the audience 
for which you intend your play; create in it the sympathetic 
relation toward your characters you wish; then you may be 
sure that what seems to you a climax for your scene will be 
so for your audience. 

Movement depends, then, on clearness, unity, emphasis, 
and a right feeling for suspense and climax. This movement 
may be steadily upward, as in the last scene of Hamlet, or 
it may have the wave-like advance found in Sigurjonsson's 
Eyvind of the Hills 1 or Sir Arthur Pinero's The Gay Lord 

1 Eyvind of the Hills, J. Sigurjonsson. American Scandinavian Society, New York. 



ARRANGEMENT 233 

Quer. The emotional interest in each of these sweeps up to 
a pure climax, drops back part way for a fresh start, and 
then advances to a stronger climax. 

Granted that a would-be playwright understands the pro- 
portioning of his work and the correct development of it for 
rness, emphasis and movement, he is ready to repeat the 
words of Ibsen: "I have just completed a play in five acts, 
that is to say, the rough draft of it. Now comes the elabora- 
tion, the more energetic individualization of the persons, and 
their modes of expression.** l He is ready to perfect his char- 
acterization and dialogue. 

» From Ibten'i Worhhop, p. 8. Copyright, 1911, by Chaa. Scriboer's Sons, N«w York. 



V 



CHAPTER VII 

CHARACTERIZATION 

In drama, undoubtedly the strongest immediate appeal to 
the general public is action. Yet if a dramatist is to commu- 
nicate with his audience as he wishes, command of dialogue 
is indispensable. The permanent value of a play, however, 
rests on its characterization. Characterization focuses atten- 
tion. It is the chief means of creating in an audience sym- 
pathy for the subject or the people of the play. "A Lord," 
"A Page," in a pre-Shakespearean play usually was merely 
a speaker of lines and little, if at all, characterized. When 
Robert Greene or his contemporaries adapted such sources 
for their stage, with sure instinct for creating a greater inter- 
est in their public, they changed these prefixes to "Eustace," 
"Jacques," "Nano," etc. Merely changing the name from 
type to individual called for individualization of character 
and usually brought it. Indeed, in drama, individualization 
is always the sign of developing art. In any country, the his- 
tory of modern drama is a passing, under the influence of the 
audience, from abstractions and personifications, through 
type, to individualized character. In the Trope, cited p. 17, 
one Mary cannot be distinguished from another. In a later 
form it is not a particular unguent seller who meets the 
Maries on the way to the tomb, but a type, — Unguent Seller. 
JVhen a writer of a Miracle Play first departed a little from 
the exact actions and dialogue of the Bible, it was to add 
. abstractions — Justice, Virtue, etc. — or types : soldiers, 
shepherds, etc. From these he moved quickly or slowly, as he 
was more or less endowed dramatically, to figures individual- 
ized from types, such as the well-characterized shepherds of 



( 



CHARACTERIZATION 235 

the Second Towneley Play. The Morality illustrates this same 
evolution even more clearly. Beginning with the pure abstrac- 
tions of Mundtu ct Infans or Mankind it passes through type 
characterization in Lusty Juventus or Hyckescorner to as 
well individualized figures as Delilah and Ishmael in The 
Wanton. 1 Abstractions permit an author to say what he 
pleases with the least possible thought for characterization. 
type presents characteristics so marked that even the un- 
observant cannot have failed to discern them in their fellow 
men. Individualization differentiates within the types, run- 
ning from broad distinctions to presentation of very subtle 
differences. Because individualization moves from the known 
to the less known or the unknown, it is harder for an audi- 
ence to follow than type characterization, and far more 
difficult to write. However, he who cannot individualize 
character must keep to the broader kinds of melodrama 
and farce, and above all to that last asylum of time-honored 
types — musical comedy. 

Fundamentally, type characterization rests on a false prem- 
ise, namely, that every human being may be adequately 
represented by some dominant characteristic or small group 
of closely related characteristics. All the better recent drama 
emphasizes the comic or tragic conflict in human beings 
caused by many contradictory impulses and ideas, some 
mutually exclusive, some negativing others to a considerable 
extent, some apparently dormant for a time, yet ready 
to spring into great activity at unforeseen moments. Ben 
Jonson carried the false idea to an extreme when he wrote 
of his " humour " comedies: 

In every human body, 
The choler, melancholy, phlegm, and blood, 
By reason that they flow continually 

1 For all of these except Hyrketcorner see Specimen* qf Pre-Shakerpearean Drama. J. M. 
Manly, i vols. Ginn & Co., Boston. For Hyrkescorner see The Origin qf the English Drama. 
Vol. 1. T. Hawkins, ed. Clarendon Press, Oxford. 



236 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

In some one part and are not continent, 
Receive the name of humours. Now thus far 
It may, by metaphor, apply itself 
Unto the general disposition: 
As when some one peculiar quality 
Doth so possess a man that it doth draw 
All his affects, his spirits and his powers, 
In his confluctions, all to run one way, 
This may be truly said to be a humour. 1 

Were Ben Jonson's physiology sound, we should have, not 
occasional cranks and neurotics as now, but a race of nothing 
else. Today modern medical science has proved the bad 
physiology of his words, and dramatists have followed its 
lead. 

What gave the type drama its great hold, in the Latin 
comedy of Plautus and Terence, in Ben Jonson and other 
Elizabethans, what keeps it alive today in the less artistic 
forms — broad farce, pure melodrama — is fourfold. Type 
characterization, exhibiting a figure wholly in one aspect, 
or through a small group of closely related characteristics, 
is easy to understand. Secondly, it is both easy to create, 
and, as Ben Jonson's great following between 1605 and 
1750 proves, even easier to imitate. Thirdly, farce and 
melodrama, indeed all drama depending predominantly on 
mere situation, may succeed, though lacking individualiza- 
tion of character, with any audience which, like the Roman 
or the Elizabethan, gladly hears the same stories or sees 
the same figures handled differently by different writers. 
Much in the plays of Reade, Tom Taylor, and Bulwer- 
Lytton 2 which passed, in the mid-nineteenth century, for 
real life, depending as it did on a characterization which 
barely rose above type, was only thinly disguised melo- 
drama. The recent increasing response of the public to 

1 Indtidion, Every Man in His Hum.our. Mermaid Series or Everyman's Library. 

2 See Two Loves and a Life, The Ticket of Leave Man, The Lady of Lyons. All published 
by Samuel French, New York. 



CHARACTERIZATION 237 

vi characterization in both farce and melodrama has 
tended to lift the former into comedy, the latter into story- 
play and tragedy. Just here appears a fourth reason for the 
popularity of characterization by types. Though entertain- 
ing plays may be presented successfully with type character- 
ization only, no dramatist with inborn or acquired ability 
to characterize, can hold consistently to types. Observa- 
tion, interpretative insight, or a flash of sympathy will ad- 
vance him now and again, as Jonson was advanced more 
than once, to real individualization of character. Contrast 
the thoroughly real Subtle, Face, and Doll of The Alchemist 1 
with the types, Ananias and Sir Epicure Mammon; con- 
trast the masterly, if very brief, characterization of Ursula 
in Bartholomew Fair 2 with the mere type of Zeal-of-t he-Land 
Busy. An uncritical audience responding to the best 
characterization in a play, overlooks the merely typical 
quality of the other figures. That is, the long vogue of types 
upon the stage rests upon ease of comprehension, entire 
adequacy for some crude dramatic forms, ease of imitation, 
and a constant tendency in a dramatist of ability to rise 
to higher levels of characterization. Now that we are more 
and more dissatisfied with types in plays making any claim 
to realism, the keen distinction first laid down by Mr. 
William Archer in his Play-Making becomes essential. If 
type presents a single characteristic or group of intimately 
related characteristics, "character drawing is the present- 
ment of human nature in its commonly recognized, under- 
stood, and accepted aspects; psychology is, as it were, the 
exploration of character, the bringing of hitherto unsur- 
veyed tracts within the circle of our knowledge and com- 
prehension." 3 Mr. Galsworthy in The Silver Box and Justice 

1 Belles-Lettres Series. F. E. ScheUing, ed. D. C. Heath & Co.; Mermaid Series, vol. m, 
or Everyman's Library. 

8 Mrrtnaiil Bam*, vol. it. Cha-i. Soribncr's Sons, New York. 
• Play-Making, pp. 376, 378. Sniafl. Mayoard & Co., Boston. 



238 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

Mr. Archer regards as a drawer of character; in Strife 1 as 
a psychologist. He holds Sir Arthur Pinero a character- 
izer of great versatility who becomes a psychologist in some 
of his studies of feminine types — in Iris, in Letty, in the 
heroine of Mid-Channel. 2 By this distinction, most good 
drama shows character drawing; only the great work, 
psychology. 

Drama which does not rise above interest in its action 
rests, as has been said, on the idea that most people are 
simple, uncomplicated, and easy to understand. Great 
drama depends on a firm grasp and sure presentation of 
complicated character, but of course a dramatist has a per- 
fect right to say that, though he knows his hero — Cyrano 
de Bergerac, for instance — may have had many character- 
istics, it is enough for the purpose of his play to represent 
the vanity, the audacity, and the underlying tenderness of 
the man. It is undeniable, too, that particular characteris- 
tics of ours may be so strong that other characteristics will 
not prevent them from taking us into sufficient dramatic 
complications to make a good play. In such a case, the 
dramatist who is not primarily writing for characterization 
will present the characteristics creating his desired situations, 
and let all others go. Conversely, he who cares most for 
characterization will try so to present even minor qualities 
that the perfect portrait of an individual will be recognized. 
Often, however, the happenings of a play may seem to an 
' audience incompatible, that is, the character in one place 
may seem to contradict himself as presented elsewhere. 
Just here is where the psychologist in the dramatist, step- 
ping to the front, must convince his audience that there is 
only a seeming contradiction. Otherwise, the play falls 
promptly to the level of simple melodrama or farce. That 

1 Plays. Chas. Scribner's Sons, New York. 

2 Walter H. Baker & Co., Boston; W. Heinemann, London. 



CHARACTERIZATION 239 

Is, the character-drawer paints his portrait, knowing that, 

if it is well done, its life-likeness will at once be recognized. 

psychologist, knowing that the life-likeness will not be 

lily admitted, by illustrative action throws light on his 

character till his point is won. Our final judgment of char- 

rization must depend on whether the author is obviously 

trying to present a completely rounded figure or only chosen 

• cts. 

Thus the old statement, "Know thyself," becomes for the 
dramatist "Know your characters as intimately as possi- 
ble." Too many beginners in play- writing who care more for 
situation than for character, sketch in a figure with the idea 
that they may safely leave it to the actor to "fill out the 
part." When brought to book they say: "I felt sure the 
actor in his larger experience, catching my idea — you do 
think it was clearly stated, don't you? — would fill it out 
perfectly, and be glad of the freedom." Were modesty the 
real basis for this kind of work, there might be good in it; 
but what really lies behind it are two great foes of good 
dramatic writing: haste or incompetence. The interest and 
the delight of a dramatist in studying people should he in 
accurate conveying to others of their contradictions, their 
deterioration or growth as time passes, the outcropping of 
characteristics in them for which our observation has not 
prepared us. Nobody who really cares for characterization 
wants somebody else to do it for him. Nobody who has 
really entered into his characters thoroughly w T ill for a 
moment be satisfied to sketch broad outlines and let the 
actor fill in details. Rarely, however, does the self-deceived 
author of such slovenly work deceive his audience. It meets 
at their hands the condemnation it deserves. Such an 
author assumes that in all the parts of his play, actors of 
marked ability and keen intelligence will be cast. Only in 
the rarest cases does that happen. Many actors may not 



240 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

see the full significance of the outlines. Others, whether 
they see them or not, will develop a character so as to get 
as swiftly as possible effects not intended by the author but 
for which they, as actors, are specially famous. Such a 
playwright must, then, contend, except in specially fortu- 
nate circumstances, against possible dullness, indifference, 
and distortion. It is the merest common sense so to present 
characters that a cast of average ability, or a stage manager 
of no extraordinary imagination may understand and repre- 
sent them with at least approximate correctness, rather 
than so to write that only a group of creative artists can do 
any justice to the play. Clear and definitive characteriza- 
tion never hampers the best actors: for actors not the best 
it is absolutely necessary unless intended values are to be 
blurred. 

It frequently happens that a writer whose dialogue is 
good and who has enough dramatic situations finds himself 
unable to push ahead. He knows broadly what he wants a 
scene to be, but somehow cannot make his characters move 
freely and naturally in it. Above all, the minor transitional 
scenes prove strangely difficult to write. Of course a scene 
or act may be thus clogged because the writer is mentally 
fagged. If, when a writer certainly is not tired, or when, 
after rest, he cannot with two or three sustained attempts 
develop a scene, the difficulty is not far to seek. In real 
life do we surely find out about people at our first, sec- 
ond, or even third meeting? Only if the people are of the sim- 
plest and most self -revelatory kind. The difficulty in these 
clogged scenes usually is that the author is treating the 
situation as if it were not the creation of the people in it, and 
as if a skilful writer could force any group of people into any 
situation. As Mr. Galsworthy has pointed out, " character 
is situation." * The latter exists because some one is what he 

» Some Platitudes Concerning Drama, Atlantic Monthly, December, 1909. 



CHARACTERIZATION 



241 



is and so has inner conflict, or clashes with another person, 
or with his environment. Change his character a little and f- 

it nation must change. Involve more people in it, and 
Immediately their very presence, affecting the people) 
originally in the scene, will change the situation. In the 
loft hand column of what follows, the Queen, though she 
has one speech, in no way affects the scene: the situation 
is treated for itself, and barely. In the right-hand column, 
the Queen becomes an individual whose presence affects 
the speeches of the King and Hamlet. Because she is what 
she is, Hamlet addresses to her some of the lines which in 
the first version he spoke to the King: result, a scene far 
more effective emotionally. 



King. And now princely 
Sonne Hamlet, 

What meanes these sad and 
melancholy moodes? 

For your intent going to Wit- 
tenberg, 

Wee hold it most unmeet and 
unconvenient, 

Being the Joy and halfe heart 

of your mother. 
Therefore let mee intreat you 

stay in Court, 
All Denmarkes hope our coosin 

and dearest Soone 



King. But now my Cosin 

Hamlet, and my sonne. 
Ham. A little more than kin, 

and lesse then kind. 
King. How is it that the 

clowdes still hang on you. 
Ham. Not so much my Lord, 
I am too much in the 
sonne. 
Queene. Good Hamlet cast 
thy nighted colour off 
And let thine eye looke like a 

friend on Denmarke, 
Doe not forever with thy vailed 

lids 
Seeke for thy noble Father in 

the dust, 
Thou know'st 'tis common all 

that lives must die, 
Passing through nature to eter- 
nitie. 
Ham. I Maddam, it is com- 
mon. 
Quee. If it be 



242 



DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 



Earn. My lord, 'tis not the 

sable sute I weare : 
No nor the teares that still stand 

in my eyes, 
Nor the distracted haviour in 

the visage, 
Nor all together mixt with out- 
ward semblance, 
Is equall to the sorrow of my 

heart, 
Him have I lost I must of force 

forgoe, 
These but the ornaments and 

sutes of woe. 



King. This shewes a loving 

care in you, Sonne Hamlet, 
But you must thinke your father 

lost a father, 
That father dead, lost his, and 

so shalbe untill the 
Generall ending. Therefore 

cease laments, 
It is a fault gainst heaven, fault 

gainst the dead, 
A fault gainst nature, and in 

reasons 
Common course most certaine, 
None lives on earth, but hee is 

borne to die. 



Why seemes it so perticuler 

with thee. 
Ham. Seemes Maddam, nay 

it is, I know not seemes, 
Tis not alone my incky cloake 

coold mother 
Nor customary suites of solembe 

blacke 
Nor windie suspiration of forst 

breath 
No, nor the fruitf ull river in the 

eye, 
Nor the dejected havior of the 

visage 
Together with all formes, 

moodes, chapes of griefe 
That can denote me truely, 

these indeede seeme, 
For they are actions that a man 

might play 
But I have that within which 

passes showe 
These but the trappings and the 

suites of woe. 
King. Tis sweete and com- 
mendable in your nature 

Hamlet, 
To give these mourning duties 

to your father 
But you must knowe your fa- 
ther lost a father, 
That father lost, lost his, and 

the surviver bound 
In filliall obligation for some 

tearme 
To do obsequious sorrowe, but 

to persever 
In obstinate condolement, is a 

course 
Of impious stubbornes . . . etc* 



CHARACTERIZATION 243 

Que. Let not thy mother loose Quce. Let not thy mother 

her praiera Hamlet, loose her prayers Hamlet, 

Stay here with us, go not to I pray thee stay with us, goe 

Wittenberg. not to Wittenberg. 

Hum. I shall in all my best Ham. I shall in all my best 

obay you madam. obay you Madam. 1 

Inexperienced dramatists too often forget that a char- 
acter who is simply one of several in a scene may not act as 
v he would alone. 

Mr. Macready's Bentevole is very fine in its kind. It is natu- 
ral, easy, and forcible. Indeed, we suspect some parts of it were 
too natural, that is, that Mr. Macready thought too much of what 
his feelings might dictate in such circumstances, rather than of 
what the circumstances must have dictated to him to do. We allude 
particularly to the half significant, half hysterical laugh and dis- 
torted jocular leer, with his eyes towards the persons accusing him 
of the murder, when the evidence of his guilt comes out. Either the 
author did not intend him to behave in this manner, or he must 
have made the other parties on the stage interrupt him as a self- 
convicted criminal. * 

Stevenson clearly recognized this truth: 

I have had a heavy case of conscience of the same kind about my 
Braxfield story. Braxfield — only his name is Hermiston — has a 
son who is condemned to death; plainly there is a fine tempting 
fitness about this; and I meant he was to hang. But now, on con- 
sidering my minor characters, I saw there were five people who 
would — in a sense who must — break prison and attempt his 
rescue. They are capable, hardy folks, too, who might very well 
succeed. Why should they not, then? Why should not young 
Hermiston escape clear out of the country? and be happy if he 
could with his — But soft ! I will betray my secret or my heroine. 3 

When a scene clogs, don't hold the pen waiting for the 
impulse to write : don't try to write at all. Study the situa- 
tion, not for itself, but for the people in it. "The Dramatist 
who depends his characters to his plot," says Mr. Gals- 

1 The Devonshire HamleU, Act I, pp. 9-10. 

' Dramatic Essays. William Hazlitt. 

» The Stage in America, pp. 81-84. N. Hapgood. The Maemillan Co. 



244 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

worthy, "instead of his plot to his characters, ought him- 
self to be depended." l If a thorough knowledge of the 
characters in the particular situation does not bring a solu- 
tion, study them as the scene relates itself to what must 
precede in characterization. More than once a dramatist 
has found that he could not compose some scene satisfacto- 
rily till he had written carefully the previous history of the 
important character or characters. The detailed knowledge 
thus gained revealed whether or not the characters could 
enter the desired situation, and if so, how. Pailleron, author 
of Le Monde oil Von s'ennuie declared that, in his early 
drafts, he always had three or four times the material in 
regard to his dramatis persona? ultimately used by him. 

Intimate knowledge of his characters is the only safe 
foundation for the ambitious playwright. It is well-nigh use- 
less to ask managers and actors to pass finally on a mere 
statement of a situation or group of situations, without 
characterization. All they can say is: "Bring me this again 
as an amplified scenario, or a play, which shows me to 
what extent the people you have in mind give freshness of 
interest to this story, which has been used again and again 
in the drama of different nations, and I will tell you what 
I will do for you." Reduce any dramatic masterpiece to 
simple statement of its plot and the story will seem so trite 
as hardly to be worth dramatization. For instance : a man 
of jealous nature, passionately in love with his young wife, 
is made by the lies and trickery of a friend to believe that 
his wife has been intriguing with another of his friends. 
The fact is that the calumniator slanders because he thinks 
his abilities have not been properly recognized by the hus- 
band and he has been repulsed by the wife. In a fury of 
jealousy the husband kills his innocent wife and then him- 
self. That might be recognized as the story of any one of 

1 Some Platitudes Concerning Drama, Atlantic Monthly, December, 1909. 



CHARACTERIZATION 24; 

fifty French, German, Italian, English, or American plays 
the last hundred years. It is, of course, the story of 
Othello — a masterpiece because Shakespeare knew Othello, * 

Desdemona, and Cassio so intimately that by their f*\ icrf} ; 

interplay of character upon character they shape every 

perfectly. In other words, though a striking dramatic 

•J ion is undoubtedly dramatic treasure trove, whether 

an l>e developed into anything fresh and contributive 

ends on a careful study of the people involved. What 

must they be to give rise to such a situation — not each 

imself, but when brought together under the conditions 

of the scene? Even if a writer knows this, he must work 

backward into the earlier history of his people before he 

can either move through the particular scene or go forward 

into other scenes which should properly result from it. 

Far too often plays are planned in this way. A writer 
thinks of some setting that will permit him a large amount 
of local color — a barroom, a dance hall, the wharf of an 
incoming ocean liner. Recognizing or not that most of this 
local color is unessential to the real action of the play, he 
does see that one or two incidents which are necessary and 
striking may be set against this background. Knowing 
broadly, how he wants to treat the scene, instead of study- 
ing the main and minor characters in it till he knows them 
so intimately that he can select from a larger amount of 
material than he can possibly use, he moves, not where the 
characters lead him, but whither, vi et armis, he can drive 
them. Rarely to him will come the delightful dilemma, so 
commonly experienced by the dramatist who really cares 
for character, when he must choose between what he was 
going to do and the scene as developed by the creatures of 
his imagination who, as they become real, take the scene 
away from him and shape it to vastly richer results. 1 

1 Sec the quotation from Stevenson, p. S43, as to Weir qf BervKtton. 



246 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

When the dramatist interested only in situation shapes the 
acts preceding his most important scene, he searches simply 
for conditions of character which will permit this important 
scene to follow. Result: earlier acts, largely of exposition 
and talk, or of illustrative action slight and unconvincing 
because characters forced into a crucial situation can hardly 
reveal how they brought themselves to it. There is no 
'middle way for the dramatist who seeks truth in character- 
ization. Given a situation, either it must grow naturally 
out of the characters in it, or the people originally in the mind 
of the author must be remodeled till they fit naturally into 
the situation. In the latter case, all that precedes and follows 
the central situation must be re-worked, not as the dramatist 
may wish, but as the remodeled characters permit. A critic 
met a well-known dramatist on the Strand. The dramatist 
looked worried. "What's the matter," queried the critic, 
"anything gone wrong?" "Yes. You remember the play 
I told you about, and that splendid situation for my hero- 
ine?" "Yes. Well?" "Well! She won't go into it, con- 
found her, do the best I can." "Why make her?" "Why? 
Because if I don't there's an end to that splendid situation." 
"Well?" "Oh, that's just why I'm bothered. I don't want 
to give in, I don't want to lose that situation; but she's 
right, of course she's right, and the trouble is I know I've 
got to yield." 

At first sight the problem may seem different in an histori- 
cal play, for here a writer is not creating incident but is often 
baffled by the amount of material from which he must select, 
— happenings that seem equally dramatic, speeches that 
cry out to be transferred to the stage, and delightful bits of 
illustrative action. Yet, whether his underlying purpose 
is to convey an idea, depict a character, or tell a story, how 
can he decide which bits among his material make the best 
illustrative action before he has minutely studied the im- 



CHARACTERIZATION 247 

nit figures? Above all others, the dramatist working 
with history is subject to the principles of characterization 
already laid down. Lessing stated the whole case suc- 
cinctly: 

!v if he chooses other and even opposed characters to the 
historical, he should refrain from using historical names, and 
rather credit totally unknown personages with well-known facts 
than invent characters to well-known personages. The one mode 
enlarges our knowledge or seems to enlarge it and is thus agreeable. 
The other contradicts the knowledge that we already possess and 
is thus unpleasant. We regard the facts as something accidental, as 
something that may be common to many persons; the characters 
we regard as something individual and intrinsic. The poet may 
take any liberties he likes with the former so long as he does not 
put the facts into contradiction with the characters; the characters 
he may place in full light but he may not change them, the smallest 
change seems to destroy their individuality and to substitute in 
their place other persons, false persons, who have usurped strange 
names and pretend to be what they are not. 1 

There is, however, a contrasting danger to insufficient 
characterization. Any one profoundly interested in charac- 
ter may easily fill a scene with delicate touches which never- 
theless swell the play to undue length. When careful exam- 
ination of a play which is too long makes obvious that no act 
or scene can be spared in whole or in part, and that the 
dialogue is nowhere wordy or redundant, watch the best 
characterized scenes to discover whether something has not 
been conveyed by two strokes rather than one. If so, choose 
the better. Watch the scenes also lest delicate and sure 
touches of characterization may have been included which, 
delightful though they be, are not absolutely necessary to 
our understanding of the character. If so, select what most 
swiftly yet clearly gives the needed information. Over- 
detail in characterization is the reason why certain modern 

. l Hamburg Dramaturgy, p. 334. Leasing. Bobn ed. 



248 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

plays have sagged, or hitched their way to a conclusion, 
instead of producing the effect desired by the author. 
/ For ultimate convincingness no play can rise above the 
f level of its characterization. The playwright who works for 
only momentary success may doubtless depend upon the 
onward rush of events, in a play of strong emotion, to blind 
his audience to lack of motivation in his characters. John 
Fletcher is the great leader of these opportunists of the 
theatre. Evadne, in The Maid's Tragedy, 1 killing the King, 
is a very different woman from the Evadne who gladly 
became his mistress. Nor are the reproaches and exhorta- 
tions of her brother Melantius powerful enough to change 
a woman of her character so swiftly and completely. An 
audience, absorbed in the emotion of the moment, may over- 
look such faults of characterization in the theatre. As it 
reviews the play in calmer mood, however, it ranks it, no 
matter how poetic as a whole or how well characterized in 
particular scenes, not as a drama which interprets life, 
but as mere entertainment. Even perfect characterization 
of some figures, when the chief are mere puppets, cannot 
make us accept the play as more than pure fiction. In 
Thomas Heywood's A Woman Killed with Kindness and 
English Traveler, 2 if the erring wives and their lovers were 
only as well characterized as the fine-spirited husbands, the 
servants, and youths like Young Geraldine, the plays might 
hold the stage today. Doubtless the actor's art in the days 
of Elizabeth and James gave to villains like Wendoll and 
women like Mrs. Frankford enough verisimilitude to make 
the plays far more convincing than they are in the reading. 
But try as we may, we cannot understand from the text 
either of these characters. Their motivation is totally inade- 
quate; that is, their conduct seems not to grow out of their 

1 Belle-Lettres Series. A. H. Thoradike, ed. D. C. Heath & Co., Boston and New York. 
* Mermaid Series for both plays. Chas. Scribner's Sons, New York. 



CHARACTERIZATION 249 

characters. Rather, they are the creatures of any situation 
into which the dramatist wishes to thrust them. 

need of motivation may be fundamental, that is, the 
racters may seem to an audience unconvincing from the 
rt; <>r may be evident in some insufficiently explained 
transition in character; or may appear only in the 
uist scene of the play, where characters hitherto consistent 
ate made to act in a way which seems to the audience im- 
probable. When Nathaniel Rowe produced his Ambitious 
•mother in 1700, Charles Gildon bitterly attacked it as 
unconvincing in its very fundamentals. 

Mirza is indeed a Person of a peculiar Taste; for a Cunning 
Man to own himself a Rogue to the Man he shou'd keep in igno- 
rance, and whom he was to work to his ends, argues little pretence 
to that Name; but he laughs at Honesty, and professes himself a 
Knave to one he wou'd have honest to him. . . . 

In the second Act, he talks of Memnon's having recourse to Arms, 
of which Power we have not the least Word in the first: All that we 
know is, that he returns from Banishment on a day of Jubilee, 
when all was Safe and Free. . . - 1 

For similar reasons, Mr. Eaton criticises unfavorably 
The Fighting Hope: 

One of the best (or the worst) examples of false ethics in such a 
play is furnished by The Fighting Hope, produced by Mr. Belasco 
in the Autumn of 1908, and acted by Miss Blanche Bates. In this 
play a man, Granger, has been jailed, his wife and the world be- 
lieve for another man's crime. The other man, Burton Temple, is 
president of the bank Granger has been convicted of robbing. A 
district attorney, hot after men higher up, is about to reopen the 
case. It begins to look bad for Temple. Mrs. Granger, disguised as 
a stenographer, goes to his house to secure evidence against him. 
What she secures is a letter proving that not he, but her husband, 
was after all the criminal. 

Of course this letter is a knockout blow for her. She realizes that 
the "father of her boys" is a thief, that the man she would send 

1 A New Rekeareal, or Bay the Younger. Charles Gildon. 17U-13. 



250 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

to jail (and with whom you know the dramatist is going to make 
her finally fall in love) is innocent. Still, in her first shock, her 
instinct to protect the "father of her boys" persists, and she burns 
the letter. 

So far, so good, but Mrs. Granger is represented as a woman of 
fine instincts and character. That she should persist in cooler blood 
in her false and immoral supposition that her boys' name will be 
protected or their happiness preserved — to say nothing of her 
own — by the guilt of two parents instead of one, is hard to believe. 
Yet that is exactly what the play asks you to believe, and it asks 
you to assume that here is a true dilemma. A babbling old house- 
keeper, whose chief use in the house seems to be to help the plot 
along, after the manner of stage servants, tells Mrs. Granger that 
she must not atone for her act by giving honest testimony in court, 
that of course she must let an innocent man go to jail, to "save 
her boys' name." 

It would be much more sensible should Mrs. Granger here strike 
the immoral old lady, instead of saving her blows for her cur of a 
husband, in the last act, who, after all, was the " father of her boys." 
But she listens to her. She appears actually in doubt not only as to 
which course she will pursue, but which she should pursue. She is 
intended by the dramatist as a pitiable object because on the one 
hand she feels it right to save an innocent man (whom she has be- 
gun to love), and on the other feels it her duty to save her sons' 
happiness by building their future on a structure of lies and deceit. 
And she reaches a solution, not by reasoning the tangle out, not by 
any real thought for her boys, their general moral welfare, not by 
any attention to principles, but simply by discovering that her hus- 
band has been sexually unfaithful to her. Further, he becomes a 
cad and charges her with infidelity. Then she springs upon him 
and beats him with her fists, which is not the most effective way of 
convincing an audience that she was a woman capable of being 
torn by moral problems. 

Of course as the play is written, there is no moral problem. 
The morality is all of the theatre. It belongs to that strange world 
behind the proscenium, wherein we gaze, and gazing sometimes 
utter chatter about "strong situations," "stirring climaxes," and 
the like, as people hypnotized. There might have been a moral 
problem if Mrs. Granger, before she discovered her husband's 
guilt, had been forced to fight a rising tide of passion for Temple in 
her own heart. There might have been a moral problem after the 



CHARACTERIZATION 251 

very and her first hasty, but natural, destruction of the letter, 
if the had felt that her desire to save Temple was prompted by a 
passion still illicit, rather than by justice. But no such real prob- 
lems were presented. The lady babbles eternally of "saving her 
s' good name," while you are supposed to weep for her plight. 
Unless you have checked your sense of reality in the cloak room, 
yon scorn lur perceptions and despise her standards. How much 
finer had she continued to love her husband! But he, after all, 
was only the "father of her boys." l 

It is insufficiently motivated characterization which Mr. 
Eaton censures in The Nigger: 

Obviously, the emotional interest in this play is — or should be, 
rather — in the tragedy of the proud, ambitious Morrow, who wakes 
suddenly to find himself a "nigger," an exile from his home, and 
hopes, from his sweetheart and his dreams. Yet, as Mr. Sheldon has 
written it, and as it was played by Mr. Guy Bates Post in the part 
of Morrow, and by the other actors, the play is most poignant in 
its moments of sheer theatrical appeal, almost of melodrama, such 
as the suspense of the cross-examination of the old mammy and 
her cry of revelation, or the pursuit of the fugitive in act one. Be- 
tween his interest in the suspense of his story and in the elucidation 
of the broader aspects of the negro question in the South, Mr. Shel- 
don neglected too much his chief figure, as a human being. Unless 
the figures live and suffer for the audience, unless their personal fate 
is followed, their minds and hearts felt as real, the naturalistic 
drama of contemporary life can have but little value, after all. That 
is what makes its technique so difficult and so baffling. From the 
moment when Morrow learned of his birth, he became a rather 
nebulous figure, not suffering so much as listening to theories which 
were only said by the dramatist to have altered his character and 
point of view. 2 

Perhaps it would be more strictly accurate to say that 
the comment on The Nigger points to inadequate treatment 
of character changing as the play progresses. The favorite 
place of many so-called dramatists for a change of character 

1 At Ike Nm Theatre, pp. 18&-192. W. P. Eaton. Small, Maynard & Co., Boston. 
' Idem, pp. 47-48. 



252 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

is in their vast silences between the acts. There, the authors 
expect us to believe that marked and necessary changes 
take place. They show us in clear-cut dramatic action the 
good character before he became bad and after he has be- 
come bad, but for proof that the changes took place, we 
must look off stage in the entr'acte. Read Lady Bountiful and 
note that between the last and the next to the last acts large 
changes have taken place in the main characters. Iris would 
be a far greater play than it is could we have seen how its 
central figure passes from the taking of the check book to the 
state of mind which makes her accept Maldonado's apart- 
ment. Contrast with these plays the thoroughly motivated 
change in the Sergeant of The Rising of the Moon or of 
Nora in A DolVs House. 

Where American plays too frequently break down is in 
what may be called the logic of character. Even when actions 
have been properly motivated up to the last act or scene, this 
is handled in such a way as rather to please the audience than 
to grow inevitably out of what has preceded. Rumor has it 
that when Secret Service was produced in one of the central 
cities of New York State, the hero at the end chose his 
country rather than the girl. The public, with that fine 
disregard in the theatre for the values it places on action 
outside, disapproved. Promptly, the ending was so changed 
that the two lovers could be started on that sure road 
to happiness ever after which all men know an engage- 
ment is — upon the stage. In a play such as Secret Service, 
planned primarily to entertain, such a shift may be pardon- 
able, but even in such a case it must be done with skill if 
it is not to jar. The Two Gentlemen of Verona in some fifty 
lines at its close shows Proteus madly in love with Silvia, 
and Valentine longing for her also; Valentine threatening the 
life of Proteus when he discovers the latter 's perfidy, but 
forgiving him instantly when Proteus merely asks pardon; 



CHARACTERIZATION 253 

and Proteus, when he discovers that the page who has been 
following him is Julia, turning instantly away from Silvia 
to her. Here is faulty characterization in two respects: each 
change is not sufficiently motived; each does not accord with 
the characterization of Proteus and Valentine in the earlier 
scenes. 

Proteus. Nay, if the gentle spirit of moving words 
Can no way change you to a milder form, 
I'll woo you like a soldier, at arms' end, 
And love you 'gainst the nature of love, — force ye. 

Silvia. O heaven! 

Pro. I'll force thee yield to my desire. 

Valentine. Ruffian, let go that rude uncivil touch, 
Thou friend of an ill fashion! 

Pro. Valentine! 

Vol. Thou common friend, that's without faith or love, 
For such is a friend now! Treacherous man, 
Thou hast beguil'd my hopes! Nought but mine eye 
Could have persuaded me. Now I dare not say 
I have one friend alive; thou wouldst disprove me. 
Who should be trusted now, when one's right hand 
Is perjured to the bosom? Proteus, 
I am sorry I must never trust thee more, 
But count the world a stranger for thy sake. 
The private wound is deepest. O time most accurst, 
'Mongst all foes that a friend should be the worst! 

Pro. My shame and guilt confounds me. 
Forgive me, Valentine; if hearty sorrow 
Be a sufficient ransom for offence, 
I tender' t here; I do as truly suffer 
As e'er I did commit. 

Vol. Then I am paid; 

And once again I do receive thee honest. 
Who by repentance is not satisfied 
Is nor of heaven nor earth, for these are pleas'd. 
By penitence the Eternal's wrath's appeas'd; 
And, that my love may appear plain and free, 
All that was mine in Silvia I give thee. 

Julia. me unhappy! (Svxxms.) 



254 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

Pro. Look to the boy. 

Vol. Why, boy! why, wag! how now! What's the matter? Look 
up; speak. 

Jul. O good sir, my master charg'd me to deliver a ring to 
Madame Silvia, which, out of my neglect, was never done. 

Pro. W T here is that ring, boy? 

Jul. Here 'tis; this is it. 

Pro. How? let me see! 
Why this is the ring I gave to Julia. 

Jul. O, cry you mercy, sir, I have mistook; 

Pro. But how cam'st thou by this ring? At my depart 
I gave this unto Julia. 

Jul. And Julia herself did give it me; 
And Julia herself hath brought it hither. 

Pro. How! Julia! 

Jul. Behold her that gave aim to all thy oaths, 
And entertain'd 'em deeply in her heart. 
How oft hast thou with perjury cleft the root! 
O Proteus let this habit make thee blush! 
Be thou asham'd that I have took upon me 
Such an immodest raiment, if shame live 
In a disguise of love. 
It is the lesser blot, modesty finds, 
Women to change their shapes than men their minds. 

Pro. Than men their minds! 'tis true. O heaven! were man 
But constant, he were perfect. That one error 
Fills him with faults; makes him run through all the sins. 
Inconstancy falls off ere it begins. 
What is Silvia's face, but I may spy 
More fresh in Julia's with a constant eye? 

Val. Come, come, a hand from either. 
Let me be blest to make this happy close; 
'Twere pity two such friends should be long foes. 

Pro. Bear witness, Heaven, I have my wish for ever. 

Jul. And I mine. 

Similar inconsistencies are in many modern plays. 
A dramatist has a particularly striking scene which he 
wishes to make the climax of his play. Into it he forces his 
figures regardless. Lessing made fun of this fault. 



CHARACTERIZATION 2J5 

. . . Tn another still worse tragedy where one of the principal 
characters died quite casually, a spectator ttked his neighbor, 
"Hut what did she die of?" — "Of what? Of the fifth act," was 
th<> reply. In very truth the fifth act is an ugly evil disease 
that carries off many a one to whom the first four acts promised a 
vr life. 1 

Or it may be, as in the case of Shakespeare just cited, 
that a dramatist feels certain changes of character are nec- 
try if the play is to end as promptly as it must. Such 
changes, therefore, he brings about even if it means throw- 
ing character or truth to the winds. English and Ameri- 
can plays of the 1880 and 1890 periods show many in- 
stances of theatrically effective endings either forced upon 
the characters or only one of several possible endings — and 
not the most probable. According to the conventions of the 
time, any young woman who had parted with her virtue, 
no matter what the circumstances, must make reparation 
by death. This usually came from some wasting but not 
clearly diagnosed disease. There w r as not always a clear 
distinction between inanition and inanity. A similar con- 
vention usually saved from death the male partners of these 
"faults," provided they indulged at the right moment in 
self-repentant speeches. Sir Arthur Pinero, writing what 
he regarded as the logical ending of The Profligate, was 
forced by the sentimentality of his public to keep Dunstan 
Renshaw alive. Here are the two endings: 

THE ENDING AS ACTED 

Dunstan. (He is raising the glass to his lips when he recoils with 
a cry of horror.) Ah! stop, stop! This is the deepest sin of all my 
life — blacker than that sin for which I suffer! No, I'll not! I'll 
not ! (He dashes the glass to the ground.) God, take my wretched life 
when You will, but till You lay Your hand upon me, I will live on! 
Help me! Give me strength to live on! Help me! Oh, help me! 

1 Hamburg Dramaturgy, p. 238. Bobn ed. 



256 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

(He falls on his knees and buries his face in his hands. Les- 
lie enters softly, carrying a lamp which she places on the 
sideboard; then she goes to Dunstan.) 

Leslie. Dunstan! Dunstan! 

Dunstan. You! You! 

Leslie. I have remembered. When we stood together at our 
prayerless marriage, my heart made promises my lips were not 
allowed to utter. I will not part from you, Dunstan. 

Dunstan. Not — part — from me? 

Leslie. No. 

Dunstan. I don't understand you. You — will — not — relent? 
You cannot forget what I am! 

Leslie. No. But the burden of the sin you have committed I will 
bear upon my shoulders, and the little good that is in me shall enter 
into your heart. We will start life anew, always seeking for the 
best that we can do, always trying to repair the worst that we have 
done. (Stretching out her hand to him.) Dunstan! (He approaches 
her as in a dream.) Don't fear me! I will be your wife, not your 
judge. Let us from this moment begin the new life you spoke of. 

Dunstan. (He tremblingly touches her hand as she bursts into tears.) 
W T ife! Ah, God bless you! God bless you, and forgive me! 

(He kneels at her side, and she bows her head down to his.) 

Leslie. Oh, my husband! 

THE ENDING AS PRINTED 

Dunstan. Fool! Fool! Why couldn't you have died in Florence? 
Why did you drag yourself here all these miles — to end it here? I 
should have known better — I should have known better. (He takes 
a phial from his pocket and slowly pours some poison into a tumbler.) 
When I've proved that I could not live away from her, perhaps 
she'll pity me. I shall never know it, but perhaps she'll pity me 
then. (About to drink.) Supposing I am blind! Supposing there is 
some chance of my regaining her. Regaining her! How dull sleep- 
lessness makes me! How much could I regain of what I've lost! 
Why, she knows me — nothing can ever undo that — she knows 
me. Every day would be a dreary, hideous masquerade; every 
night a wakeful, torturing retrospect. If she smiled, I should whis- 
per to myself — " yes, yes, that's a very pretty pretence, but — 
she knows you ! " The slamming of a door would shout it, the creak- 
ing of a stair would murmur it " she knows you ! " And when she 



CHARACTERIZATION 257 

thoughl herself alone, or while she lay in her deep, I should he al- 

Ithily spying for that dreadful look upon her face, and 
I should find it again and again as I see it now — the look which 
out so plainly "Profligate! you taught one good woman to 
believe in you, but now she knows youi" No, no — no, no! (He 
drains the contents of the tumbler.) The end — the end. (Pointing 
trd* the clock-.) The hour at which we used to walk together in 
thr garden at Florence — husband and wife — lovers. (He pulls 
vp the window-blind and looks out.) The sky — the last time — 
tin' sky. (He rests drowsily against the piano.) Tired — tired. (He 
walks rather unsteadily to the table.) A line to Murray. (Writing.) 
A line to Murray — telling him — poison — morphine — message 

— (The pen falls from his hand and his head drops forward.) The 
light is going out. I can't see. Light — I '11 finish this when I wake 

— I '11 rest. (He staggers to the sofa and falls upon it.) I shall sleep 
tonight. The voice has gone. Leslie — wife — reconciled — 

(Leslie enters softly and kneels by his side.) 
Leslie. Dunstan, I am here. (He partly opens his eyes, raises him- 
self, and stares at her; then his head falls back quietly. Leslie's face 
airrted.) Dunstan, I have returned to you. We are one and we will 
make atonement for the past together. I will be your Wife, not 
your Judge — let us from this moment begin the new life you spoke 
of. Dunstan ! (She sees the paper which has fallen from his hand, 
and reads it.) Dunstan! Dunstan! No, no! Look at me! Ah! (She 
catches him in her arms.) Husband! Husband! Husband! > 

It is of course true, as M. Brieux maintains in regard to 
the two endings of his early play, Blanchette, 2 that some- 
times more than one ending may be made plausible. Con- 
sequently he changed a tragic close to something more 
pleasing to his audience. Belief grows, however, that when 
a play has been begun and developed with a tragic end- 
ing in mind, this cannot with entire convincingness be 
changed to something else unless the play is rewritten from 
the start. There is inevitableness in the conduct on the 
stage of the creatures of our brains even as with people of 
real life. So strongly does Sir Arthur Pinero feel this as the 

1 Walter H. Baker & Co., Boston; W. Heinemann, London. 

* P. V. Stock, Paris. Published in translation by J. W. Luce & Co., Boston. 



258 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

result of his long experience that, though he changed the 
ending of The Big Drum in 1915 in accordance with public 
demand, he restored the original version when printing the 
play. He says in his Preface: 

The Big Drum is published exactly as it was written, and as it 
was originally performed. At its first representation, however, the 
audience was reported to have been saddened by its "unhappy 
ending." Pressure w T as forthwith put upon me to reconcile Philip 
and Ottoline at the finish, and at the third performance of the play 
the curtain fell upon the picture, violently and crudely brought 
about, of Ottoline in Philip's arms. 

I made the alteration against my principles and against my 
conscience, and yet not altogether unwillingly. For we live in de- 
pressing times; and perhaps in such times it is the first duty of a 
writer for the stage to make concessions to his audience and, 
above everything, to try to afford them a complete, if brief, dis- 
traction from the gloom which awaits them outside the theatre. 

My excuse for having at the start provided an "unhappy" end- 
ing is that I was blind enough not to regard the ultimate break 
between Philip and Ottoline as really unhappy for either party. 
On the contrary, I looked upon the separation of these two people 
as a fortunate occurrence for them both; and I conceive it as a piece 
of ironic comedy which might not prove unentertaining that the 
falling away of Philip from his high resolves was checked by the 
woman he had once despised and who had at last grown to know 
and to despise herself. 

But comedy of this order has a knack of cutting rather deeply, 
of ceasing, in some minds, to be comedy at all; and it may be said 
that this is what has happened in the present instance. Luckily 
it is equally true that certain matters are less painful, because less 
actual, in print than upon the stage. The "wicked publisher" 
therefore, even when bombs are dropping round him, can afford 
to be more independent than the theatrical manager; and for this 
reason I have not hesitated to ask my friend Mr. Hejnemann to 
publish The Big Drum in its original form. 1 

What Ibsen thought of the ultimate effect of changing an 
ending to aceord with public sentiment, these words about 
A DoWs House show : 

1 Walter H. Baker & Co., Boston; W. Heinemann, London. 



CHARACTERIZATION 259 

t he time when A Doll's House was quite new, I was obliged to 

my consent to an alteration of the last scene for Frau Hedwig 

be, who was to play the part of Nora in Berlin. At 

that time I had no choice. I was entirely unprotected by copyright 
in Germany, and could, consequently, prevent nothing. Be- 
. the play in its original, uncorrupted form was accessible to 

the German public in a German edition which was already printed 

and published. With its altered ending it had only a short run. 

In its unchanged form it is still being played. 1 

Dumas fils was even more severe in his strictures: 

If at the second performance you are ready to modify your cen- 
tral idea, your development or your conclusion to please the pub- 
lic whom the night before you were pretending to teach something 
fresh, you may be, perhaps, an ingenious worker in the theatre, an 
admit impresario, a facile inventor; you will never be a dramatist. 
You can make mistakes in details of execution; you have no right 
to make a mistake in the logic of your play, its co rrelations of emo- 
tions and acts, and least of all, in their outcome. 2 

Characterization, then, should be watched carefully in 
its fundamentals, all changes, and especially for its logical 
outcome. Long ago, Diderot summed up the subject thus : 

One can form an infinitude of plans on the same subject and 
developed around the same characters. But the characters being 
once settled, they can have but one manner of speaking. Your 
figures will have this or that to say according to the situation in 
which you may have placed them, but being the same human be- 
bga in all the situations, they will not, fundamentally, contradict 
themselves. 3 

How may wc know whether our motivation is good or 
not? First of all, it must be clear. If an audience cannot 
make out why one of our characters does what he is doing, 
from that moment the play weakens. It is on this ground 
that William Archer objected to the Becket of Tennyson: 

1 LtHert of Henrik Ibsen, p. 437. 

1 An Public, La Princette Oeorget. Calmann Levy, Paris. 

1 CEutrtt, vol. vii, p. 3*0. Gamier Freres, Pari*. 



260 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

"Some gents," says the keeper, in Punch, to the unsuccessful 
sportsman, "goes a-wingin' and a-worritin' the poor birds; but you, 
sir — you misses 'em clane and nate!" With the like delicate tact 
criticism can only compliment the poet on the "clane and nate" 
way in which he has missed the historical interest, the psychologi- 
cal problem, of his theme. What was it that converted the Becket 
of Toulouse into the Becket of Clarendon — the splendid warrior- 
diplomatist into the austere prelate? The cowl, we are told, 
does not make the monk; but in Lord Tennyson's psychology it 
seems that it does. Of the process of thought, the development of 
feeling, which leads Becket, on assuming the tonsure, to break with 
the traditions of his career, with the friend of his heart and with 
his own worldly interest — of all this we have no hint. The social 
and political issues involved are left equally in the vague. Of the 
two contending forces, the Church and the Crown, which makes 
for good, and which for evil? With which ought we to sympathize? 
It might be argued that we have no right to ask this question, and 
that it is precisely a proof of the poet's art that he holds the balance 
evenly, and does not write as a partisan. But as a matter of fact 
this is not so. The poet is not impartial; he is only indefinite. We 
are evidently intended to sympathize, and we do sympathize, with 
Becket, simply because we feel that he is staking his life on a prin- 
ciple; but what that principle precisely is, and what its bearings on 
history and civilization, we are left to find out for ourselves. Thus 
the intellectual opportunity, if I may call it so, is missed "clane 
and nate." 1 

Contrast the third, fourth, and fifth acts of Michael and 
His Lost Angel 2 with the first and second. So admirable is 
the characterization of Acts I and II that a reader under- 
stands exactly what Audrie and Michael are doing and why. 
In the other acts, though what they are doing is clear, *srhy 
the Audrie and Michael of the first two acts behaved thus 
is by no means clear and plausible. Indeed, plausibility and 
clearness go hand in hand as tests of motivation. Account- 
ing for the deeds of any particular character is easy if the 
conduct rests on motives which any audience will immedi- 

1 The Theatrical World for 1893, pp. 46-47. W. Archer. Walter Scott, Ltd., London. 
* The Macmillan Co., New York. 



CHARACTERIZATION 261 

ately recognize as both widespread and likely to produce 
the situation. It is just here, however, that national taste 
and literary convention complicate the work of the drama- 
tist. An American, watching a performance of Simone 1 
by M. Brieux, hardly understood the loud protests which 
bunt from the audience when the heroine, at the end of the 
play, sternly denounced her father's conduct. To him, it 
seemed quite natural that an American girl should assume 
this right of individual judgment. The French audience 
felt that a French girl, because of her training, would not, 
under the circumstances, thus attack her father. M. Brieux 
admitted himself wrong and changed the ending. It is this 
fact, that conduct plausible for one nation is not always 
equally plausible for another, which makes it hard for an 
American public to understand a goodly number of the 
masterpieces of recent Continental dramatic literature. 

What literary convention may do in twisting conduct 
from the normal, the pseudo-classic French drama of Cor- 
neille and Racine, and its foster child, the Heroic Drama of 
England, illustrate. Dryden himself points out clearly the 
extent to which momentary convention among the French 
deflected the characters in their tragedies from the normal : 

The French poets . . . would not, for example, have suffer'd 
I >atra and Octavia to have met; or, if they had met, there must 
only have passed betwixt them some cold civilities, but no eagerness 
of repartee, for fear of offending against the greatness of their char- 
acters, and the modesty of their sex. This objection I foresaw, and 
at the same time contemn'd; for I judg'd it both natural and prob- 
ahle that Octavia, proud of her new-gain'd conquest, would search 
out Cleopatra to triumph over her; and that Cleopatra, thus at- 
tack'd, was not of a spirit to shun the encounter: and 'tis not un- 
likely that two exasperated rivals should use such satire as I have 
put into tluir mouths; for, after all. tho' the one were a Roman, and 
the other a queen, they were both women. 

» P. V. Stock, Paris. 



262 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

Thus, their Hippolytus is so scrupulous in point of decency that 
he will rather expose himself to death than accuse his stepmother 
to his father; and my critics I am sure will commend him for it: 
but we of grosser apprehensions are apt to think that this excess of 
generosity is not practicable, but with fools and madmen. This was 
good manners with a vengeance; and the audience is like to be much 
concern'd at the misfortunes of this admirable hero; but take Hip- 
polytus out of his poetic fit, and I suppose he would think it a wiser 
part to set the saddle on the right horse, and choose rather to live 
with the reputation of a plain-spoken, honest man, than to die with 
the infamy of an incestuous villain. In the meantime we may take 
notice that where the poet ought to have preserv'd the character 
as it was deliver'd to us by antiquity, when he should have given 
us the picture of a rough young man, of the Amazonian strain, a 
jolly huntsman, and both by his profession and his early rising 
a mortal enemy to love, he has chosen to give him the turn of 
gallantry, sent him to travel from Athens to Paris, taught him 
to make love, and transformed the Hippolytus of Euripides into 
Monsieur Hippolyte. 1 

One of the chief elements in the genius of Shakespeare is 
his power to transcend momentary conventions, fads, and 
theories, and to discern in his material, whether history or 
fiction, eternal principles of conduct. Thus he wrote for 
all men and for all time. In Love's Labor's Lost he wrote for 
a special audience, appealing to its ideas of style and humor. 
In Twelfth Night he let his characters have full sway. 
Which is the more alive today? 

Nor is it only the literary conventions of an audience 
which affect the problem of plausibility set an author. The 
French public of 1841 which came to the five-act play of 
Eugene Scribe, Une Chaine, 2 asked, not a convincing pic- 
ture of life, but mere entertainment. Therefore they ac- 
cepted insufficient motivation and artificiality in handling 
the scenes. Louise, the wife, discovering from words of her 

1 Selected Dramas of John Dryden, p. 230. Preface, All for Love. G. B. Noyes, ed. Scott, 
Foresman & Co., New York. 
» T/Udtre, vol. u. Michel Levy Freres, Paris. 



CHARACTERIZATION 263 

husband as she enters the room that her former lover, 
Emmeric, now prefers Aline to her, sits down and dashes 
ned letter releasing him. Just why is not clear. In 
r that she may do this writing unobserved by her hus- 
!, two characters must, for some time, be so managed 
as to stand between him and her. In order that the hus- 
band may never know she has been in love with Emmeric, 
the letter must be kept out of his hands, and read only by 
the guardian of Aline, Clerambeau. All this requires con- 
stant artifice. Sidney Grundy made a one-act adaptation of 
Une Chaine called In Honor Bound. 1 In this, Lady Carlyon, 
waking from sleep on the divan in her husband's study, hears, 
Unobserved by Philip and Sir George, the young man's ad- 
mission that he no longer cares for her. When her cry re- 
veals her, Sir George, her husband, thinking her unwell, goes 
to bring her niece, Rose, to her aid. Lady Carlyon learns 
promptly from Philip that the guardian of the girl he is 
engaged to demands a letter releasing him from any former 
entanglement. Lady Carlyon, to cover her chagrin, with 
seeming willingness writes and signs a letter. Thus the writ- 
ing takes place when the husband is off stage, and the evi- 
dent chagrin of Lady Carlyon motivates it better. The 
relation of the husband to the letter is also handled better 
than in the original. He, unlike St. Geran, strongly suspects 
that his wife has cared for the younger man. Lady Carlyon 
is unaware that Sir George is the guardian in question and 
that the girl is her niece, Rose. Consequently she lets slip 
that Philip possesses the desired letter. Sir George demands 
it as his right, noting her disturbance when she learns that 
her husband is involved in the situation. When Philip re- 
fines to surrender the letter, Sir George courteously permits 
him to read it aloud. Just before the signature is reached, he 
stops Philip, asking him if the letter is signed. When Philip 

1 Walter H. Baker & Co., Boston. 



264 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

admits that it is, Sir George insists on having the letter, 
then, without looking at it, burns it at the lamp with words 
of sympathy for the writer. All this turns the husband in 
this scene from a mere lay figure into a character, and 
greatly lessens the artificiality of the original. By means of 
better characterization a motivation fundamentally more 
plausible is provided. Why? Because an English audience 
of 1880-90 expected much more probability in a play than 
did a French or English audience of 1841. 

Of course, conduct initially unconvincing may be so 
treated as to become entirely satisfactory. One of the de- 
lights in characterization is so preparing for an exhibition 
of character likely to seem unreal of itself that when it is 
presented it is accepted either at once or before the scene 
closes. Any motive which a dramatist can make acceptable 
to his audience is ultimately just as good as one accepted 
unquestioningly. Shylock's demand for the pound of flesh 
is in itself unplausible enough — the act of one demented 
or insane. But Shakespeare's emphasis on his racial hate 
lends it possibility. His presentation of the other people 
in the play as accepting the bond with the minimum of 
question makes it seem probable. If a would-be dramatist 
were to rule out as material not to be treated whatever at 
the outset seems improbable or impossible, think what our 
drama would lose: such plays as Faust, Midsummer Night's 
Dream, The Blue Bird, and even Hamlet. 

Repeatedly in treating plausibility it has been implied 
or stated that what is said or done must be "in charac- 
ter." This suggests another test of good motivation. 
/What happens must be plausible, not only in that it ac- 
/ cords with known human experience, but with what has 
v been done by the character in preceding portions of the 
play. In The Masqueraders, when Sir Brice and David stake 
Dulcie and her child against the fortune of the latter, and 



CHARACTERIZATION 265 

ill I urn upon a game of cards, a reader is skeptical, for 
1 if it ho admitted that Sir Brice might do this, it 
g not accord with what we know of David from the 
r scenes of the play. 

(Exit Dulric. The two men are left alone. Another slight 

pause. Sir Brice walks very deliberately up to David. 

The two men stand close to each other for a moment or two.) 

You've come to settle your little account, I suppose? 

David. I owe you nothing. 

But I owe you six thousand pounds. I haven't a penny 
in the world. I'll cut you for it, double or quits. 
David. I don't play cards. 
Sir Brice. You'd better begin. 

(Rapping on the table with the cards.) 
Darid. (Very firmly.) I don't play cards with you. 
Sir Brice. And I say you shall. 

David. (Very stern and contemptuous.) I don't play cards with 
you. (Going towards door ; Sir Brice following him up.) 

Sir Brice. You refuse? 
David. I refuse. 

Sir Brice. (Stopping him.) Once for all, will you give me a chance 
of paying back the six thousand pounds that Lady Skene has bor- 
rowed from you? Yes or no? 
David. No. 
Sir Brice. No? 

David. (Very emphatically.) No. (Goes to door, suddenly turns 
round, comes up to him.) Yes. (Comes to the table.) I do play cards 
with you. You want my money. Very well. I'll give you a chance 
of winning all I have in the world. 

Sir I) rice. (After a look of astonishment.) Good. I'm your man. 
Any game you like, and any stakes. 

David. (Very calm, cold, intense tone all through.) The stakes on 
my side are some two hundred thousand pounds. The stakes on 
side are — your wife and child. 
Sir Brice. (Taken aback.) My wife and child. 
David. Your wife and child. Come — begin! 

(Points to the cards.) 
Sir Brier. (Getting flurried.) My wife and child? (Puts his hand 
ssly through his hair, looks intently at David. Pause.) All right. 
(Pause. Cunningly.) I value my wife and child very highly. 



266 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

David. I value them at all I have in the world. (Pointing to the 
cards.) Begin! 

Sir Brice. You seem in a hurry. 

David. I believe I haven't six months to live. I want to make the 
most of those six months. If I have more I want to make the most 
of all the years. Begin! 

Sir Brice. (Wipes his face with his handkerchief.) This is the 
first time I've played this game. We'd better arrange conditions. 

David. There's only one condition. We play till I 'm beggared of 
every farthing I have, or till you're beggared of them. Sit down! 

Sir Brice. (Sits down.) Very well. (Pause.) What game? 

David. The shortest. 

Sir Brice. Simple cutting? 

David. W T hat you please. Begin ! 

Sir. Brice. There's no hurry. I mean to have a night's fun out 
of this. 

David. Look at me. Don't trifle with me! I want to have done 
with you. I want them to have done with you. I want to get them 
away from you. Quick! I want to know now — now — this very 
moment — whether they are yours or mine. Begin. 

Sir Brice. (Shuffles the cards.) All right. What do we cut for? 

David. Let one cut settle it. 

Sir Brice. No. It's too much to risk on one throw. 

David. One cut. Begin. 

Sir Brice. It's too big. I can't. (Gets up, walks a pace or two.) I 
like high play, but that's too high for me. (David remains at back of 
table, very calm ; does not stir all through the scene ; Sir Brice walking 
about.) No, by Jove! I'll tell you what I'll do. Three cuts out of 
five. Damn it all! I'm game! Two out of three. By Jove, two out 
of three! Will that do? 

David. So be it! Shuffle. Sit down! 

(Sir Brice sits down ; begins shuffling the cards. All through 
the scene he is nervous, excited, hysterical, laughing. David 
as cold as a statue.) 1 

An almost similar situation in a play set in a remote part 
of the West, Believe Me, Xantippe, is more convincing. A 
loutish beast agrees to gamble for a woman he is kidnapping 
with a young adventurer who sees at the moment no other 
way to save her from the other man's clutches. The scene 

1 The Macmillan Co., New York. Act m. 



CHARACTERIZATION 267 

is not at all improbable for either man. In The Princess and 
the Butterfly, all the preceding acts are but a preparation for 
what the world will call the unreason, in the last act, of the 
marriages of Sir George and the Princess Pannonia, — of 
middle age with youth. Their final conduct would seem un- 
plausible were it not entirely in keeping with their characters 
as carefully developed in the earlier parts of the play. The 
Rising of the Moon of Lady Gregory shows a final situation 
for the Police Sergeant which, at the opening of the play, 
would seem impossible for him. In a few pages, however, 
the dramatist so develops the character that we are per- 
fectly ready to accept his sacrifice of the "hundred pounds 
reward " which he so coveted at the outset. 

Motivation should not, however, be allowed to obtrude 
itself, but should be subordinated to the emotional purpose 
of the scene. The modern auditor prefers to gather it almost 
unconsciously as the action of the play proceeds rather than 
to have it emphasized for him, as does Iago, at the end 
of several acts of Othello. Another instance of this frank 
motivation among the Elizabethans may be found in the 
soliloquy from The Duchess of Malfi: 

Cardinal. The reason why I would not suffer these 
About my brother is because at midnight 
I may with better privacy convay 
Julias body, to her owne lodging. O, my conscience! 
I would pray now: but the divell takes away my heart 
For having any confidence in praier. 
About this hour I appointed Bosola 
To fetch the body: when he hath serv'd my turne, 
He dies. 1 

Good motivation, then, must be clear; either plausible 
naturally or made so by the art of the dramatist; should in 
each particular instance comport with the preceding actions 
and speech of the character; and should not be so stressed 

» Bellet-Lettxes Series, p. 373. M. W. Sampson, ed. D. C. Heath & Co., Boston. 



268 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

as to draw attention away from the emotional significance 



of the scene. 



c 



It is by well-motived characterization that drama passes 
from melodrama to story-play and so to tragedy; or, from 
the broadest farce or extravaganza through low comedy to 
high. As long as we care little what the people in our play 
are, and greatly for comic or serious happenings, we may 
string situations together almost at will. The moment that 
our figures come alive, as has been pointed out, selection 
in our possible material has begun. Some of the incidents in 
our melodrama or broad farce will drop out as wholly im- 
possible for these figures which have come to life. Others 
must be modified if the figures are to take part in them. 
Give a melodrama sustaining, convincing characterization 
and it must at least turn into a story-play, something which 
after a mingling of the serious and the comic does not end 
tragically. So characterize in a story with a serious ending 
(that the tragic result develops inevitably from the sequence 
iQf preceding scenes, and tragedy is born. Watch the way 
in which Shakespeare lifts the Hubert and Arthur scene 
of the old play of King John by the infused characteriza- 
tion. In the old play the author presents us with puppets 
depending for their effect on the contained horror of the 
scene. Shakespeare creates a winsome, brave young prince, 
and a very human Hubert. The scene moves us, not simply 
from our dread of physical torture, but because of our grow- 
ing intense sympathy for the lad who is fighting for his life. 

ACT IV. SCENE 1. North- 
ampton. A Room in the castle 

Enter Hubert de Burgh with Enter Hubert and two Attendants 

three men Eyh Heatme these irons hot, 

Hub. My masters, I have and look thou stand 

shewed you what warrant I Within the arras : when I strike 

have of this attempt; I perceive my foot 



CHARACTERIZATION 



269 



ie countenances, 
ad rather be otherwise im- 
bfeyed, and for my owne part, 
I would the King had made 
• of some other execution- 
er; ondy this is my comfort, 
King commaunds, whose 
:>ts neglected or omitted, 
kneth torture for the de- 
fault. Therefore in briefe, leave 
A be readie to attend the 
adventure: stay within that 
entry, and when you hear me 
crie. God save the King, issue 
soda inly foorth, lay handes on 
Arthur, set him in his chayre, 
wherein (once fast bound) leave 
him with me to finish the rest. 
ndants. We goe, though 
loath. (Exeunt.) 

Hub. My Lord, will it please 
your Honour to take the bene- 
fice of the faire evening? 

Enter Arthur to Hubert de Burgh 

Arth. Gramercie Hubert for 

thy care of me, 
In or to whom restraint is newly 

knowen, 
The jov of walking is small bene- 
fit. 
Yet will I take thy offer with 

small thankes, 
I would not loose the pleasure 

of the eye. 
But tell me curteous Keeper if 

you can, 
How long the King will have me 

tarrie here. 
Hub. I know not Prince, but 

as I gesse, not long. 



Upon the bosom of the ground, 

rush forth, 
And bind the boy, which you 

shall find with me, 
Fast to the chair: be heedful. 
Hence, and watch. 
1. Attend. I hope, your war- 
rant will bear out the deed. 
Hub. Uncleanly scruples : fear 
not you : look to't. — 

{Exeunt Attendants.) 
Young lad, come forth; I have 
to say with you. 

Enter Arthur 

Arth. Good morning, Hubert. 
Hub. Good morrow, 

little prince. 
Arth. As little prince (having 

so great a title 
To be more prince,) as may be. 

— You are sad. 
Hub. Indeed I have been mer- 
rier. 
Arth. Mercy on me! 
Methinks nobody should be sad 

but I: 
Yet, I remember, when I was in 

France, 
Young gentlemen would be as 

sad as night, 
Only for wantonness. By my 

Christendom, 
So I were out of prison and kept 

sheep, 
I should be as merry as the day 

is long; 
And so I would be here, but that 

I doubt 
My uncle practises more harm 

to me: 



270 



DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 



God send you freedome, and 
God save the King. 

{They issue forth.) 
Arth. Why now sirs, what 
may this outrage meane? 

help me Hubert, gentle 

Keeper helpe; 

God send this sodaine mutinous 
approach 

Tend not to reave a wretched 
guiltless life. 
Hub. So sirs, depart, and 

leave the rest for me. 
Arth. Then Arthur yeeld, 
death f rowneth in thy face, 

What meane th this? Good Hu- 
bert plead the case. 
Hub. Patience yong Lord, 
and listen words of woe, 

Harmful and harsh, hells hor- 
ror to be heard : 

A dismall tale fit for a furies 
tongue. 

1 faint to tell, deepe sorrow is 

the sound. 
Arth. What, must I die? 
Hub. No newes of death, but 

tidings of more hate, 
A wrathfull doome, and most 

unluckie fate: 
Deaths dish were daintie at so 

fell a feast J 
Be deafe, heare not, its hell to 

tell the rest. 
Arth. Alas, thou wrongst my 

youth with words of feare, 
Tis hell, tis horror, not for one 

to heare: 
What is it man if needes be don, 
Act it, and end it, that the paine 

were gon. 



He is afraid of me and I of him. 
Is it my fault that I was Gef- 
frey's son? 
No, indeed, is't not; and I would 

to heaven, 
I were your son, so you would 

love me, Hubert. 
Hub. {Aside.) If I talk to 

him, with his innocent prate 
He will awake my mercy, which 

lies dead: 
Therefore I will be sudden, and 

dispatch. 
Arth. Are you sick, Hubert? 

you look pale today. 
In sooth, I would you were a 

little sick; 
That I might sit all night, and 

watch with you: 
I warrant I love you more than 

you do me. 
Hub. {Aside.) His words do 

take possession of my 

bosom. — 
Read here, young Arthur, 

{Showing a paper.) 
{Aside.) How now, foolish 

rheum! 
Turning dispiteous torture out 

of door? 
I must be brief; lest resolution 

drop 
Out at mine eyes in tender 

womanish tears. — 
Can you read it? Is it not fair 

writ? 
Arth. Too fairly, Hubert, for 

so foul effect. 
Must you with hot irons burn 

out both mine eyes? 
Hub. Young boy, I must. 



CHARACTERIZATION 



271 



Hub. I will not chaunt such 
dolour with my tongue, 
■11st I act the outrage with 
my hand. 
My heart, my head, and all my 
powers beside, 

le the office have at once 
deride. 

this Letter, lines of 
treble woe, 
Reade ore my charge, and 
pardon when you know. 

Hubert, these are to commaund 
thee, as thou tendrest our 
quiet in minde, and the 
estate of our person, that 
presently upon the receipt 
of our commaund, thou 
put out the eies of Arthur 
Plantaginet. 

Arth. Ah, monstrous damned 
man! his very breath in- 
fects the elements. 

Contagious venyme dwelleth in 
his heart; 

Effecting meanes to poyson all 
the world. 

Unreverent may I be to blame 
the heavens 

Of great injustice, that the mis- 
creant 

Lives to oppresse the innocents 
with wrong. 

Ah, Hubert! makes he thee his 
instrument, 

To sound the tromp that 
causeth hell triumph? 

Heaven weepes, the 6aints do 
shed celestiall teares, 



Arth. And will you? 

Huh. And I will. 

Arth. Have you the heart? 

When your head did but 

ache, 
I knit my handkerchief about 

your brows, 
(The best I had, a princess 

wrought it me,) 
And I did never ask it you again : 
And with my hand at midnight 

held your head, 
And, like the watchful minutes 

to the hour, 
Still and anon cheer'd up the 

heavy time, 
Saying, What lack you? and, 

Where lies your grief? 
Or, What good love may I per- 
form for you? 
Many a poor man's son would 

have lain still, 
And ne'er have spoken a loving 

word to you; 
But you at your sick service 

had a prince. 
Nay you may think my love was 

crafty love, 
And call it cunning: do, an if 

you will. 
If heaven be pleas'd that you 

will use me ill, 
Why, then you must. — Will 

you put out mine eyes? 
These eyes that never did, nor 

never shall 
So much as frown on you? 
Hvb. I have 

sworn to do it, 
And with hot irons must I burn 

them out. 



2 7 2 



DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 



They feare thy fall, and cyte 
thee with remorse, 

To knock thy conscience, mov- 
ing pitie there, 

Willing to fence thee from the 
range of hell, 



Hell, Hubert, trust me all the 

plagues of hell 
Hangs on performance of this 

damned deede. 
This seale, the warrant of the 

bodies blisse, 
Ensureth Satan chieftaine of 

thy soule: 
Subscribe not Hubert, give not 

Gods part away, 
I speake not only for eyes priv- 

iledge, 
The chief e exterior that I would 

enjoy: 
But for they perill, farre be- 
yond my paine, 
Thy sweetes soules losse, more 

than my eyes vaine lack : 
A cause internall, and eternall 

too, 
Advise thee Hubert, for the case 

is hard, 
To loose salvation for a Kings 

reward. 
Hub. My Lord, a subject 

dwelling in the land 
Is tyed to execute the Kings 

commaund. 
Arth. Yet God commaunds 

whose power reacheth fur- 
ther, 



Arth. Ah! none but in this 
iron age would do it. 

The iron of itself, though heat 
red-hot, 

Approaching near these eyes 
would drink my tears, 

And quench this fiery indigna- 
tion, 

Even in the matter of mine in- 
nocence: 

Nay, after that, consume away 
in rust, 

But for containing fire to harm 
mine eye. 

Are you more stubborn hard 
than hammered iron? 

An if an angel should have come 
to me, 

And told me Hubert should put 
out mine eyes, 

I would not have believ'd him; 
no tongue but Hubert's. 
Hub. Come forth. (Stamps.) 

Re-enter Attendants, with Cord, 
Irons, &c. 

Do as I bid you do. 

Arth. Oh! save me, Hubert, 

save me! my eyes are out, 
Even with the fierce looks of 

these bloody men. 
Hub. Give me the iron, I say, 

and bind him here. 
Arth. Alas! what need you 

be so boisterous-rough? 
I will not struggle; I will stand 

stone-still. 
For heaven's sake, Hubert, let 

me not be bound. 
Nay, hear me Hubert: drive 

these men away, 



CHARACTERIZATION 



2 '/3 



That do commaund should 
md in force to mnrther. 

Huh. Hut that same Essence 
hath ordained a law, 
th for guilt, to keepe the 

world in awe. 

Arth. I pleade, not guiltie, 

t reason 1 esse and free. 
Huh. Hut that appeale, my 

•1, conccrnes not me. 
Arth. Why thou art he that 

maist omit the perill. 
Huh. I, if my Soveraigne 

would remit his quarrell. 
Arth. His quarrell is unlial- 

lowed false and wrong. 
Hub. Thou l>e tlie blame to 

whom it doth belong. 
Arth, Why thats to thee if 
thou as they proceede, 
Conclude their judgement with 
so vile a deede. 
Hub. Why then no execution 
can be lawfull, 
If Judges doomes must be re- 
puted doubtfull. 
Arth. Yes where in forme of 
Lawe in place and time, 
The offended is convicted of the 
crime. 
Hub. My Lord, my Lord, this 
long expostulation, 
Heapes up more griefe, than 

promise of redresse; 
For this I know, and so reso- 

lude I end, 
That subjects lives on Kings 

commaunds depend. 
I must not reason why he is 
your foe, 



And I will sit as quiet as a 

lamb; 
I will not stir nor wince, nor 

speak a word, 
Nor look upon the iron angerly. 
Thrust but these men away, and 

I '11 forgive you, 
Whatever torment you do put 
me to. 
Hub. Go, stand within: let 

me alone with him. 
1. Attend. I am best pleas'd 
to be from such a deed. 

{Exeunt Attendants.) 
Arth. Alas! I then have chid 
away my friend: 
He hath a stern look, but a gen- 
tle heart. — 
Let him come back that his com- 
passion may 
Give life to yours. 
Hub. Come, boy, 

prepare yourself. 
Arth. Is there no remedy? 
Hub. None 

but to lose your eyes. 
Arth. O heaven! — that there 
were but a mote in yours, 
A grain, a dust, a gnat, a wan- 
dering hair, 
Any annoyance in that precious 

sense! 
Then, feeling what small things 

are boisterous there, 
Your vile intent must needs 
seem horrible. 
Hub. Is this your promise? go 

to; hold your tongue. 
Arth. Hubert, the utterance 
of a brace of tongues 



274 



DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 



But doo his charge since he com- 
maunds it so. 
Arth. Then doo thy charge, 
and charged be thy soule 

With wrongf ull persecution don 
this day. 

You rowling eyes, whose super- 
ficies yet 

I doo behold with eyes that Na- 
ture lent: 

Send foorth the terror of your 
Moovers frowne, 

To wreake my wrong upon the 
murtherers 

That rob me of your faire re- 
flecting view: 

Let hell to them (as earth they 
wish to me) 

Be darke and direfull guerdon 
for their guylt, 

And let the black tormenters of 
deepe Tartary 

Upbraide them with this 
damned enterprise, 

Inflicting change of tortures on 
their soules. 

Delay not Hubert, my orisons 
are ended, 

Begin I pray thee, reave me of 
my sight: 

But to performe a tragedie in- 
deede, 

Conclude the period with a mor- 
tal stab. 

Constance farewell, tormenter 
come away, 

Make my dispatch the Tyrants 
feasting day. 
Hub. I faint, I feare, my con- 
science bids desist: 



Must needs want pleading for a 

pair of eyes: 
Let me not hold my tongue; let 

me not, Hubert: 
Or Hubert, if you will, cut out 

my tongue. 
So I may keep mine eyes. 0! 

spare mine eyes; 
Though to no use, but still to 

look on you. 
Lo! by my troth, the instrument 

is cold, 
And would not harm me. 
Hub. I can 

heat it, boy. 
Arth. No, in good sooth; the 

fire is dead with grief, 
Being create for comfort, to be 

us'd 
In undeserv'd extremes: see else 

yourself; 
There is no malice in this burn- 
ing coal; 
The breath of heaven hath 

blown his spirit out, 
And strew'd repentant ashes on 

his head. 
Hub. But with my breath I 

can revive it, boy. 
Arth. And if you do, you will 

but make it blush, 
And glow with shame of your 

proceedings, Hubert: 
Nay, it, perchance, will sparkle 

in your eyes; 
And like a dog that is com- 

pell'd to fight, 
Snatch at his master that doth 

tarre him on. 
All things that you should use 

to do me wrong, 



CHARACTERIZATION 



2 75 



Faint did I say? fear was it that 
rned: 

I : ng commaunds, that war- 

rant sets me free: 
Hut God forbids, and he com- 

mandeth Kings, 
That great Commaunder coun- 

hecks my charge. 
He staves my hand, he maketh 

my heart. 
Goe cursed tooles, your oflfice is 

exempt, 
CfcMfle thee young Lord, thou 

shalt not loose an eye, 
Though I should purchase it 

with losse of life, 
lie to the King and say his will 

is done, 
And of the langor tell him thou 

art dead, 
Goe in with me, for Hubert was 

not borne 
To blinde those lampes that 

nature pollisht so. 
Arih. Hubert, if ever Arthur 

be in state, 
Looke for amends of this re- 
ceived gift, 
I tooke my eyesight by thy 

curtesie, 
Thou lentst them me, I will not 

be ingrate. 
But now procrastination may 

offend 
The issue that thy kindness 

undertakes: 
Depart we Hubert, to prevent 

the worst. (Exeunt.) 1 



Deny their office: only you do 
lack 

That mercy, which fierce fire, 
and iron, extends, 

Creatures of note for mercy- 
lacking uses. 
Hub. Well, see to live; I will 
not touch thine eyes 

For all the treasures that thine 
uncle owes: 

Yet I am sworn, and I did pur- 
pose, boy, 

With this same very iron to 
burn them out. 
Arih. 0! now you look like 
Hubert; all this while 

You were disguised. 

Hubert. Peace! no more. 

Adieu. 

Your uncle must not know but 
you are dead : 

I'll fill these dogged spies with 
false reports; 

And pretty child, sleep doubt- 
less, and secure, 

That Hubert for the wealth of 
all the world 

Will not offend thee. 

Arih. O heaven! — 

I thank you, Hubert. 
Hub. Silence! no more. Go 
closely in with me; 

Much danger do I undergo for 
thee. (Exeunt.) 



8hak*rp«tre'$ Library, vol. v, pp. *67-«71. W. C. Hailitt. «A 



276 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

For further illustration of Shakespeare's clear under- 
standing that the emotions of well-characterized figures are 
better means of controlling an audience than a merely 
horrific situation, study his handling of the ghost scene in 
Richard III or Julius Caesar in contrast with similar places 
in Hamlet. What most transmuted the Ur-Hamlet of Thomas 
Kyd into one of the greatest tragedies of all time was the 
characterization Shakespeare put into it. Certainly, char- 
acterization makes for dramatists the stepping-stones on 
which they may rise from dead selves to higher things. 

How may all this needed characterization best be done? 
A dramatist should not permit himself to describe his char- 
acters, for in his own personality he has no proper place in 
the text. There the characters must speak and act for them- 
selves. There has been, however, an increasing tendency 
lately to describe the dramatis persona? of the play in pro- 
grams, either in the list of characters or in a summary of the 
plot. Some writers apparently assume that every auditor 
reads his program carefully before the curtain goes up. 
Such an assumption is false: more than that it is lazy, in- 
competent, and thoroughly vicious, putting a play on the 
level with the motion pictures, which cannot depend wholly 
on themselves but would often be wholly vague without 
explanatory words thrown upon the canvas. Nor can the 
practice of the older dramatists like Wycherley and Shad- 
well, who often prefixed to their printed plays elaborate 
summaries describing the dramatis personce, be cited as a 
final defense. 

Sir William Belfond, a Gentleman of above 3,000 per annum, who 
in his youth had been a spark of the town, but married and re- 
tired into the country, where he turned to the other extreme, 
rigid and morose, most sordidly covetous, clownish, obstinate, 
positive, and froward. 

Sir Edward Belfond, his Brother, a merchant, who by lucky hits 
had gotten a great estate, lives single, with ease and pleasure, 



CHARACTERIZATION 277 

reasonably and virtuously. A man of great humanity and gen- 
>s and compassion towards mankind; will read in good 
Is |M>ssesscd with all gentleman-like qualities. 

Belfond. S.-ui-.r. eldest son to Sir William; bred after his father's 

rustic swinish manner, with great rigour and severity; upon 

whom his father's estate is entailed; the confidence of which 

makes him break out into open rebellion to his father, and be- 

lewd, abominably vicious, stubborn, and obstinate. 

rid, Junior, second Son to Sir William; adopted by Sir Ed- 
ward, and bred from his childhood by him, with all tenderness, 
and familiarity, and bounty, and liberty that can be, instructed 
in all the liberal sciences, and in all gentlemanlike education. 
what given to women, and now and then to good fellowship, 
but an ingenious, well-accomplished gentleman: a man of honour, 
and of excellent disposition and temper. 

Truman, his friend, a man of honour and fortune. 

Cheat ly, a rascal, who by reason of debts dares not stir out of 
Whitefriars, but there inveigles young heirs in tail, and helps 
them to goods and money upon great disadvantages; is bound 
for them, and shares with them, till he undoes them. A lewd, 
impudent, debauched fellow, very expert in the cant about town. 

Shamwell, cousin to the Belfonds, an heir, who being ruined by 
Cheatly. is made a decoy-duck for others; not daring to stir 
out of Alsatia, where he lives. Is bound with Cheatly for heirs, 
and lives upon them a dissolute, debauched life. 

Captain Hackum, a blockhead ed bully of Alsatia; a cowardly, im- 
pudent, blustering fellow; formerly a sergeant in Flanders, run 
from his colours, retreated into Whitefriars for a very small debt, 
where, by the Alsatians, he is dubbed a captain; marries one 
that lets lodgings, sells cherry brandy, and is a bawd. 

Scrapeall, a hypocritical, repeating, praying, psalm-singing, pre- 

e fellow, pretending to great piety, a godly knave, who joins 

with Cheatly, and supplies young heirs with goods and money. 

rney to Sir William Belfond, who solicits his business and 
receives all his packets. 

Lolpoop, a North-country fellow, servant to Belfond, Senior, much 
displeased at his master's proceedings. 1 

1 Squire of AUatia. Mermaid Seri«s. G. Saintsbury, ed. Chas. Scribner's Sons, New York. 



278 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

It is more than doubtful if anything so elaborate could be 
found in the manuscripts of Wycherley and Shadwell. Their 
purpose was doubtless the same as that of certain modern 
dramatists who, with a view to making plays less difficult 
for those unaccustomed to reading them, greatly amplify 
the stage directions before their plays go to print. Mr. 
Granville Barker in the manuscripts of his plays is particu- 
larly frugal of stage directions, but in the printed form of 
The Madras House, 1 practically the whole history of Julia is 
given in the opening stage direction: 

Julia started life — that is to say, left school — as a genius. The 
head mistress had had two or three years of such dull girls that really 
she could not resist this excitement. Watercolour sketches were the me- 
dium. So Julia was dressed in brown velveteen, and sent to an art school, 
where they wouldn't let her do watercolour drawing at all. And in two 
years she learnt enough about the trade of an artist not ever to want to 
do those watercolour drawings again. Julia is now over thirty, and 
very unhappy. Three of her watercolours {early masterpieces) hang 
on the drawing-room wall. They shame her, but her mother won't have 
them taken down. On a holiday she'll be off now and then for a solid 
day's sketching ; and as she tears up the vain attempt to put on paper 
the things she has learnt to see, she sometimes cries. It was Julia, 
Emma, and Jane who, some years ago, conspired to present their 
motlier with that intensely conspicuous cosy corner. A cosy corner is 
apparently a device for making a corner just what the very nature of a 
corner should forbid it to be. They beggared themselves; but one wishes 
that Mr. Huxtable were more lavish with his dress allowances, then 
they might at least have afforded something not quite so hideous. 

Such characterizing is an implied censure on the ability 
of most readers to see the full significance of deft touches in 
the dialogue. If not, then it is necessary because some part 
of it is not given in the text as it should be, or it is wholly 
unnecessary and undesirable, for the text, repeating all this 
detail, will be wearisome to an intelligent reader. The safest 
principle is, in preparing a manuscript for acting, to keep 

* Mitchell Kennerley, New York. 



CHARACTERIZATION 279 

p directions to matters of setting, lighting, essential 
ements, and the intonations which cannot, by the ut- 
t efforts of the author, be conveyed by dialogue. 1 In 
this la^t group belong certain every-day phrases susceptible 
of so many shadings that the actor needs guidance. In the 
last line of this extract from the opening of Act III of Mrs- 
Dane s Defence, the "tenderly" is necessary. 

Enter Wilson rigltf, announcing Lady Eastney. Enter Lady 
Eastney. Exit Wilson. 

Lady Eastney. (Shaking hands.) You're busy? 

Sir Daniel. Yes, trying to persuade myself I am forty — solely 
on your account. 

Lady Eastney. That's not necessary. I like you well enough as 
you are. 

Sir Daniel. (Tenderly.) Give me the best proof of that. 

Notice that the statement just formulated as to stage 
directions reads, "cannot be conveyed," not "may not." 
Cross the line, and differences between the novel and the 
play are blurred, for the author runs a fair chance of omit- 
ting exposition needed in the text and of writing colorless 
dialogue. A recently published play prefaces not only every 
speech, but even parts of the speeches with careful state- 
ments as to how they should be given, even when the text 
is perfectly clear. Nothing is left to the imagination, and 
the text is often emotionally colorless. 

Let it be remembered, then, that the stage direction is not 
a pocket into which a dramatist may stuff whatever expla- 
nation, description, or analysis a novelist might allow him- 
self, but is more a last resort to which he turns when he 
cannot make his text convey all that is necessary. 

F™ie passing of the soliloquy and the aside 2 makes the 
atist of today much more limited than were his prede- 
1 For illustration of good work, see pp. 45-26, 36, 49, 162, 174, 181, 180. 
1 See for discussion of these, pp. S82-96. 



280 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

Ccessors in letting a character describe itself. Today every- 
thing depends on the naturalness of the self -exposition. The 
vainglorious, the self -centered, the garrulous will always talk 
of themselves freely. The reserved, the timid, and persons 
under suspicion will be sparing of words. When the ingenu- 
ity of the dramatist cannot make self -exposition plausible, 
the scene promptly becomes unreal. The point to be remem- 
bered is, as George Meredith once said, that "The verdict 

/is with the observer." Not what seems plausible to the 
author but what, as he tries it on auditors, proves accept- 

\able, may stand. 

Description of one character by another is usually more 
plausible than the method just treated. Even here, how- 
ever, the test remains plausibility. It requires persuasive 
acting to make the following description of Tartuffe per- 
fectly natural. There is danger that it will appear more the 
detailed picture the dramatist wishes to place in our minds 
than the description the speaker would naturally give his 
listeners : 

Organ. Ah! If you'd seen him, as I saw him first, 
You would have loved him just as much as I. 
He came to church each day, with contrite mien, 
Kneeled, on both knees, right opposite my place, 
And drew the eyes of all the congregation, 
To watch the fervor of his prayers to heaven; 
With deep-drawn sighs and great ejaculations. 
He humbly kissed the earth at every moment; 
And when I left the church, he ran before me 
To give me holy water at the door. 
I learned his poverty, and who he was, 
By questioning his servant, who is like him, 
And gave him gifts; but in his modesty 
He always wanted to return a part. 
"It is too much," he'd say, "too much by half? 
I am not worthy of your pity." Then, 
When I refused to take it back, he'd go, 
Before my eyes, and give it to the poor. 



CHARACTERIZATION 281 

At length Heaven bade me take him to my home, 

si nee that day, all seems to prosper here. 
II censures nothing, and for my sake 
H< even takes great interest in my wife; 
II( leta me know who ogles her, and seems 

times as jealous as I am myself. 
You'd not believe how far his zeal can go: 
He calls himself a sinner just for trifles; 
The merest nothing is enough to shock him; 
So much so, that the other day I heard him 
Accuse himself for having, while at prayer, 
In too much anger caught and killed a flea. 1 

The scene in which Melantius draws from his friend 
Amintor {The Maid's Tragedy, Act in, Scene 2) admission 
of his wrongs, shows admirable use of both kinds of descrip- 
tion — of oneself and of another person. 

Melantius. You may shape, Amintor, 

Causes to cozen the whole world withall, 
And you yourself e too; but tis not like a friend 
To hide your soule from me. Tis not your nature 
To be thus idle: I have seene you stand 
As you were blasted midst of all your mirth; 
Call thrice aloud, and then start, faining joy 
So coldly! — World, what doe I here? a friend 
Is nothing! Heaven, I would ha told that man 
My secret sinnes! lie search an unknowne land, 
And there plant friendship; all is withered here. 
Come with a complement! I would have fought, 
Or told my friend a lie, ere soothed him so. 
Out of my bosome! 

Amintor. But there is nothing. 

Mel. Worse and worse! farewell. 

From this time have acquaintance, but no friend. 

Amin. Melantius, stay; you shall know what that is. 

Mel. See; how you plaid with friendship! be advis'd 
How you give cause unto yourselfe to say 
You ha lost a friend. 

1 Tartufe, Act i. Chief European DramatieU. Brander Matthews, ed. Houghton Mifflin 
Co^ Boston. 



282 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

Amin. Forgive what I ha done; 

For I am so oregone with injuries 
Unheard of, that I lose consideration 
Of what I ought to doe. — Oh! — Oh! 

Mel. Doe not weepe. 
What ist? May I once but know the man 
Hath turn'd my friend thus! 

Amin. I had spoke at first, 

But that — 

Mel. But what? 

Amin. I held it most unfit 

For you to know. Faith, doe not know it yet. 

Mel. Thou seest my love, that will keepe company 
With thee in teares; hide nothing, then, from me; 
For when I know the cause of thy distemper, 
With mine old armour He adorn myselfe, 
My resolution, and cut through my foes, 
Unto thy quiet, till I place thy heart 
As peaceable as spotless innocence. 
What is it? 

Amin. Why, tis this — it is too bigge 
To get out — let my teares make way awhile. 

Mel. Punish me strangely, Heaven, if he escape 
Of life or fame, that brought this youth to this. 1 

The cry with which Electra turns to her peasant husband 
in the play of Euripides is perhaps as fine an instance as 
there is of natural description by one person of her relations 
to another. 

Peasant. What wouldst thou now, my sad one, ever fraught 
With toil to lighten my toil? And so soft 
Thy nurture was! Have I not chid thee oft, 
And thou wilt cease not, serving without end? 

Electra. {Turning to him with impulsive affection.) friend, 
my friend, as God might be my friend, 
Thou only hast not trampled on my tears. 
Life scarce can be so hard, 'mid many fears 
And many shames, when mortal heart can find 
Somewhere one healing touch, as my sick mind 
1 Act in, Scene 2. Belles-Lettres Series. A. H. Thorndike, ed. D. C. Heath & Co. 



CHARACTERIZATION 283 

Finds thee. . . . And should I wait thy word, to endure 
A little f.»r thine easing, yea, or ixmr 

strength out in thy toiling fellowship? 
1 hast enough with fields and kine to keep; 
mine to make all bright within the door. 
•v to him that toils, when toil is o'er, 
To find home waiting, full of happy things. 
Peasant. If so it please thee, go thy way. 1 

Unquestionably, however, the best method of characteri- 
zation is by action. In the first draft of Ibsen's A DolVs 
i\rogstad uses with his employer Helmar, because he 
is an old school fellow, the familiar "tu." This under the 
circumstance illustrates his tactlessness better than any 
amount of description. When Helmar is irritated by this 
familiarity, his petty vanity is perfectly illustrated. Any 
one who recalls the last scene of Louis XI as played by the 
late Sir Henry Irving remembers vividly the restless, greed- 
ily moving fingers of the praying King. They told far more 
than words. The way in which Mrs. Lindon, throughout 
the opening scene of Clyde Fitch's The Truth, 11 touches any 
small article she finds in her way perfectly indicates her 
fluttering nervousness. 

At Mrs. Warder's. . . . A smart, good-looking man-servant, Jenks, 
shows in Mrs. Lindon and Laura Fraser. The former is a handsome, 
nervous, overstrung woman of about thirty-four, very fashionably 
dressed; Miss Fraser, on the contrary, a matter-of-fact, rather com- 
monplace type of good humor — wholesomeness united to a kind of 
sense of humor. . . . 

Mrs. Lindon nervously picks up check-book from the writing-table, 
looks at it but not in it, and puts it down. . . . 

She opens the cigar box on the writing-table behind her and then 
bangs it shut. . . . 

She picks up stamp box and bangs it down. 

Rises and goes to mantel, looking at the fly-leaves of two books on a 
table which she passes. 

1 Act 1. Tr. Gilbert Murray. Geo. Allen & Sons, London. * The MacmilUn Co.,N.Y. 



284 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

Does not the action of this extract from Middleton's 
A Chaste Maid in Cheapside help most in depicting the 
greed and dishonesty of Yellowhammer, as well as the 
humor and ingenuity of the suitor? 

Touchwood junior. (Aside.) 'Twere a good mirth now to set 
him a- work 
To make her wedding-ring; I must about it: 
Rather than the gain should fall to a stranger, 
'Twas honesty in me t' enrich my father. 

YeUowhammer. (Aside.) The girl is wondrous peevish. I fear 
nothing 
But that she 's taken with some other love, 
Then all's quite dashed: that must be narrowly looked to; 
We cannot be too wary in our children. — 
What is't you lack? 

Touch, jun. O, nothing now; all that I wish is present: 
I'd have a wedding-ring made for a gentlewoman 
With all speed that may be. 

Yel. Of what weight, sir? 

Touch, jun. Of some half ounce, stand fair 
And comely with the spark of a diamond; 
Sir, 'twere pity to lose the least grace. 

Yel. Pray, let's see it. (Takes stone from Touchwood junior.) 
Indeed, sir 'tis a pure one. 

Touch, jun. So is the mistress. 

Yel. Have you the wideness of her finger, sir? 

Touch, jun. Yes, sure, I think I have her measure about me: 
Good faith, 'tis down, I cannot show it to you; 
I must pull too many things out to be certain. 
Let me see — long and slender, and neatly jointed; 
Just such another gentlewoman — that's your daughter, sir? 

Yel. And therefore, sir, no gentlewoman. 

Touch, jun. I protest. 
I ne'er saw two maids handed more alike; 
I'll ne'er seek farther, if you '11 give me leave, sir. 

Yel. If you dare venture by her finger, sir. 

Touch, jun. Ay, and I'll bide all loss, sir. 

Yel. Say you so, sir? 
Let us see. — Hither, girl. 



CHARACTERIZATION 285 

Touch, jun. Shall I main i>old 
With vour finger, gentlewoman? 

Ifoff, Vour pleasure, >ir. 

Touch, jun. That fits her to a hair, sir. 

(Trying ring on MoWs finger.) 

}*</. What's your posy, now, sir? 

Touch, jun. Mass, that's true: posy? i'faith, e'en thus, sir: 
"Love that's wise 
Blinds parents' eyes." 

Pat How, how? if I may speak without offence, sir, I hold 
my life — 

Touch, jun. What, sir? 

Fat. Go to, — you'll pardon me? 

Touch, jun. Pardon you? ay, sir. 

}>/. Will you, i' faith? 

Touch, jun. Yes, faith, I will. 

Ytl. You'll steal away some man's daughter: am I near you? 
Do you turn aside? you gentlemen are mad wags! 
I wonder things can be so warily carried, 
And parents blinded so: but they're served right, 
That have two eyes and were so dull a' sight. 

Touch, jun. (Aside.) Thy doom take hold of thee! 

}'<•/. Tomorrow noon 
Shall show your ring well done. 

Touch, jun. Being so, 'tis soon. — 
Thanks, and your leave, sweet gentlewoman. 

Moll. Sir, you're welcome. — 

(Exit Touchwood junior.) 
were I made of wishes, I went with thee! 1 

Could any description or analysis by the author or another 
character paint as perfectly as does the action of the follow- 
ing lines the wistful grief of the child pining for his mother? 

Enter Giovanni, Count Lodovico. 

Francisco. How now, my noble cossin! what, in blacke? 

Giovanni. Yes, unckle, I was taught to imitate you 
In vertue, and you must imitate mee 
In coloures of your garments: my sweete mother 
Is — 

1 Mermaid Series. Vol. 1, Act. 1, Scene 1. Chas. Scribner's Sons, New York. 



286 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

Fran. How? where? 

Giov. Is there; no, yonder; indeed, sir, He not tell you, 
For I shall make you weepe. 

Fran. Is dead. 

Giov. Do not blame me now, 
I did not tell you so. 

Lodovico. She's dead, my lord. 

Fran. Dead! 

Monticelso. Blessed lady; thou art now above thy woes! 
Wilt please your lordships to withdraw a little? 

(Exeunt Ambassadors.) 

Giov. What do the deade do, uncie? do they eate, 
Heare musicke, goe a hunting, and bee merrie, 
As wee that live? 

Fran. No, cose; they sleepe. 

Giov. Lord, Lord, that I were dead! 

I have not slept these sixe nights. When doe they wake? 

Fran. When God shall please. 

Giov. Good God let her sleepe ever! 

For I have knowne her wake an hundredth nights, 
When all the pillow, where she laid her head, 
Was brine-wet with her teares. I am to complaine to you, sir. 
He tell you how they have used her now shees dead: 
They wrapt her in a cruell fould of lead, 
And would not let me kisse her. 

Fran. Thou didst love her. 

Giov. I have often heard her say she gave mee sucke, 
And it would seeme by that shee deerely lov'd mee 
Since princes seldome doe it. 

Fran. O, all of my poore sister that remaines! 
Take him away, for Gods sake! 

(Exeunt Giovanni, Lodovico, and Mar cello.) 1 

In brief, then, understand your characters thoroughly, 

but do not, in your own personality, describe them any- 

/ where. Let them describe themselves, or let other people 

\ on the stage describe or analyze them, when this is naturally 

convincing or may be made plausible by your skill. Trust, 

* Vittoria Corambona, Act in, Sc. 2. Webster. Belles-Lettres Series. M. W. Sampson, ed. 
D. C. Heath & Co., Boston and New York. 



CHARACTERIZATION 287 

ever, above all, to letting your characters live before 

e the emotions which interest you, thus making 

mvey their characters by the best means of com- 

■nmication tatween actor and audience — namely, action. 

In the chapter (VI) dealing with clearness in exposition 

• me importance of identifying the characters for 

the audience has been carefully treated. 1 Closely connected 

with this identifying is the matter of entrances and exits. 

characterizing value of exits and entrances is usually 
little understood by the inexperienced dramatist. Yet in 
life, men and women cannot enter or leave a room with- 
out characterization. Watch the people in a railroad car 
rs the terminus. The people who rise and stand in 
the aisles are clearly of different natures from those who 
tin quietly seated till the train reaches its destination. 
The twenty or thirty standing wait differently and leave 
the car with different degrees of haste, nervousness or antici- 
pation. Those who remain seated differ also. Some are 
absorbed in conversation, oblivious of the approaching sta- 
; others, somewhat ostentatiously, watch the waiters in 
s with amused contempt. Study, therefore, exits 
and entrances. Very few will be found negative in the sense 
that they add nothing to the knowledge of the characters. 
How did Claude enter in the following extract from a recent 
? Claude, it should be said, has been mentioned just 
in passing, as a suitor of Marna. Other matters, however, 
have been occupying attention. 

Enter Claude 

Claude. (Sitting beside her on the settle.) I thought I should 
not see you tonight. 

Marna. I wondered if you would come. 

Claude must really have entered in character — quickly, 
impetuously, or ardently. He may have paused an instant 

I See pp. 154-161. 



288 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

on the threshold; he may have dashed in, leaving the door 
ajar; he may have closed it cautiously; he may have come 
in through the window. And how did they get to the settle? 
The author may know all this, but he certainly does not 
tell. He should visualize his figures as he writes, seeing them 
from moment to moment as they move, sit, or stand. 
Otherwise, he will miss much that is significant and char- 
acterizing in their actions. 

In a play that was largely a study of a self-indulgent, self- 
centred youth, to the annoyance of all he is late at the 
family celebration of his cousin's birthday. Sauntering in, 
he meets a disappointing silence. Looking about, he says, 
"Nobody has missed me." And then, as all wait for his 
excuses, he shifts the burden of speech to his mother with 
the words, "Hasn't her ladyship anything to say?" Surely 
this entrance characterizes. 

Illusion disappears, also, when people needed on the stage, 
from taxi-cab drivers to ambassadors, are apparently wait- 
ing just outside the door. A play of very interesting sub- 
ject-matter became almost ridiculous because whenever 
anybody was needed, he or she was apparently waiting just 
outside one of the doors. As some of these were persons in- 
volved in affairs of state and others supposedly lived at a 
distance, their prompt appearance partook of wizardry. 
People should not only come on in character, but after time 
enough has been allowed or suggested to permit them to 
come from the places where they are supposed to have 
been. 
/ How much the entrance of a character should be pre- 

/ pared for must be left to the judgment of the dramatist. 
Whatever is needed to make the entrance produce the effect 

\ desired must be planted in the minds of the audience before 
^he character appears. Phormio, in Terence's play of that 
name, does not appear before the second act. His entrance 



CHARACTERIZATION 289 

As undoubtedly held back both to whet curiosity to the 
(utmost before he appears, and in order to set forth clearly 
The tangle of events which his ingenuity must overcome. 
Mugda, in Sudermann's lleimaU also appears first in the 
»nd act. This is not done because some leading lady 
wished to make as triumphant an entrance as possible, an 
inartistic but time-honored reason in some plays, but be- 
et use, till we have lived with Magda's family in the home 
from which she was driven by her father's narrowness and 
inflexibility, we cannot grasp the full significance of her 
character in this environment when she returns. Usually, 
of course, a character of importance does appear in the first 
act, but naturalness first and theatrical effectiveness second 
determine the point at which it is proper that a character 
should appear. The supposed need in the audience for 
detailed information, slight information, or no information 
as to a figure about to enter must decide the amount of per- 
liminary statement in regard to him. If possible, a char- 
acter enters, identifies himself, and places himself with re- 
gard to the other persons involved in the action as nearly 
as possible at one and the same time. The more important 
the character, the more involved the circumstances which 
we must understand before he can enter properly, the 
greater the amount of preliminary preparation for him. 
In Phormio l and Heimat (or Magda) this preparation fills 
an act; in Tartuffe it fills two acts. More often bits here 
and there prepare the way, or some one passage of dialogue, 
as in the introduction of Sir Amorous La-Foole in Ben 
Jonson's Epiccene. 2 

Dauphine. We are invited to dinner together, he and I, by one 
that came thither to him, Sir La-Foole. 
( lerimoni. I, that's a precious mannikin ! 
Daup. Do you know him? 

1 Chief European Dramatist*. Brander Matthews, ed. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston. 
1 Act 1, Scene 1. Mermaid Series, vol. hi, or Everyman's Library. 



290 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

Cler. Ay, and he will know you too, if e'er he saw you but once, 
though you should meet him at church in the midst of prayers. He 
is one of the braveries, though he be none of the wits. He will salute 
a judge upon the bench, and a bishop in the pulpit, a lawyer when 
he is pleading at the bar, and a lady when she is dancing in a 
masque, and put her out. He does give plays and suppers, and in- 
vite his guests to them, aloud, out of his window, as they ride by 
in coaches. He has a lodging in the Strand for the purpose: or to 
watch when ladies are gone to the china-houses, or the Exchange, 
that he may meet them by chance, and give them presents, some 
two or three hundred pounds' worth of toys, to be laughed at. He 
is never without a spare banquet, or sweetmeats in his chamber 
for their women to alight at, and come up to for bait. 

Daup. Excellent! he was a fine youth last night; but now he is 
much finer! what is his Christian name? I have forgot. 

Re-enter Page 
Cler. Sir Amorous La-Foole. 

Page. The gentleman is here below that owns that name. 
Cler. 'Heart, he's come to invite me to dinner, I hold my life. 
Daup. Like enough: prithee, let's have him up. 
Cler. Boy, marshall him. 

In Scene 1, Act I, of Becket, as written by Lord Tennyson, 
we have : 

Enter Rosamund de Clifford, flying from Sir Reginald Fitz TJrse, 
drops her veil 

Becket. Rosamund de Clifford! 

Rosamund. Save me, father, hide me — they follow me — and 
I must not be known. 

Sir Henry Irving arranged this for the stage as follows: 

Enter Rosamund de Clifford. Drops her veil 

Rosamund. Save me, father, hide me. 

Becket. Rosamund de Clifford! 

Rosamund. They follow me — and I must not be known. 

There are real values in these seemingly slight changes. 
With a rush and in confusion, Rosamund enters. As it is 



CHARACTERIZATION 291 

her first appearance in the play, it is of the highest impor- 
tance that she be identified for the audience. If Becket 
gives her name as she enters, it may be lost in her onward 
rush. If entering, she speaks the line, "Save me, father, hide 
me," she centers attention on him and he may fully empha- 
size the identification in, "Rosamund de Clifford!" Note 
as bearing on what has already been said in regard to un- 
necessary use of stage direction that Irving cut out "flying 
from Sir Reginald Fitz Urse." He knew that Rosamund's 
speeches and her action would make the fleeing clear enough, 
and that the scene immediately following with Fitz Urse 
would show who was pursuing her. Entrances, when well 
handled, therefore, must be in character, prepared for, and 
properly motivated. 

Exits are just as important as entrances. The exit of Cap- 
tain Nat in Shore Acres has already been mentioned under 
pantomime. Mark the significance of the exit of Hamlet in 
the ghost scene, as he goes with sword held out before him. 
The final exit of Iris in Pinero's play is symbolic of her 
passing into the outer and under world. 

Maldonado. You can send for your trinkets and clothes in the 
morning. After that, let me hear no more of you. (She remains 
motionless, as if stricken.) I 've nothing further to say. 

(A slight shiver runs through her frame and she resumes her 
walk. At the door, she feels blindly for the handle; finding 
it, she opens the door narrowly and passes out.) 

The absurdities in which the ill-managed exit or entrance 
may land us, Lessing shows amusingly: 

Maffei often does not motivate the exits and entrances of his 
personages: Voltaire often motivates them falsely, which is far 
W( >rse. It is not enough that a person says why he comes on, we 
ought also to perceive by the connection that he must therefore 
come. It is not enough that he say why he goes off, we ought to 
see subsequently that he went on that account. Else, that which 
the poet places in his mouth is mere excuse and no cause. When, for 



292 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

example, Eurykles goes off in the third scene of the second act, in 
order, as he says, to assemble the friends of the queen, we ought to 
hear afterwards about these friends and their assemblage. As, 
however, we hear nothing of the kind, his assertion is a schoolboy 
"Peto veniam exeundi," the first falsehood that occurs to the boy. 
He does not go off in order to do what he says; but in order to return 
a few lines on as the bearer of news which the poet did not know 
how to impart by means of any other person. Voltaire treats the 
ends of acts yet more clumsily. At the close of the third act, Poly- 
phontes says to Merope that the altar awaits her, that all is ready 
for the solemnizing of their marriage and he exits with a "Venez, 
Madame." But Madame does not come, but goes off into another 
coulisse with an exclamation, whereupon Polyphontes opens the 
fourth act, and instead of expressing his annoyance that the queen 
has not followed him into the temple (for he had been in error, there 
was still time for the wedding) he talks with his Erox about matters 
he should not ventilate here, that are more fitting conversation for 
his own house, his own rooms. Then the fourth act closes — ex- 
actly like the third. Polyphontes again summons the queen into 
the temple, Merope herself exclaims, " Courons nous vers le temple 
ou m'attend mon outrage"; and says to the chief priests who come 
to conduct her thither, "Vous venez al'autel entralner la victime." 
Consequently we must expect them inside the temple at the begin- 
ning of the fifth act, or are they already back again? Neither; good 
things will take time. Polyphontes has forgotten something and 
comes back again and sends the queen back again. Excellent ! Be- 
tween the third and fourth, between the fourth and fifth acts no- 
thing occurs that should, and indeed, nothing occurs at all, and the 
third and fourth acts only close in order that the fourth and fifth 
may begin. 1 

At the end of Act II of The Princess and the Butterfly the 
exits are as important as any part of the text. Note particu- 
larly the last. 

Denstroude. (On the steps, pausing and looking back.) You cycle 
at Battersea tomorrow morning? 

Mrs. St. Roche. It's extremely unlikely. 
Denstroude. I shall be there at ten. Don't be later. 

1 Hamburg Dramaturgy, pp. 867-368. Bohn «d. 



CHARACTERIZATION 293 

(He kisses his hand to her and departs. She stands quite still, 
thinking. A Servant enters, crosses to the billiard-room, 
and proceeds to cover up the billiard-table. She walks 
slowly to the ottoman and sits, lookiwj into the fire. St. 
Roche reappears and comes down the steps. She does not 
turn her head. He goes to the table and mixes some spirits 
and water.) 

[she mixes the drink.) What d'ye think — what d'ye 
think thai silly, infatuated feller's goin' to do? 
. St. Roche. Demailly? 
St. Roche. (Glancing toward the billiard-room.) Sssh! (With a nod.) 

(He comes to her, bringing her the tumbler in which he has 
mixed the drink.) 
Mrs. St. Roche. (Taking the tumbler, her eyes never meeting his.) 
Well, what is he going to do? 
St. Roche. Marry that low woman. 
Mrs. St. Roche. (Callously.) Great heavens! the fool! 
St. Roche. Yes. Shockin', ain't it? 

Mrs. St. Rocfa. (Putting the glass to her lips, with a languid air.) 
lias blinded him, I suppose, with some story or other; or he 
would hardly have committed the outrage, tonight, of presenting 
her to me. 

St. Roche. (Returning to the table and mixing a drink for himself.) 
That's it — blinded him. And yet it's almost incomprehensible 
how a feller can be as blind as all that. Why, the very man-in-the- 
street — 

(The Servant switches off the lights in the billiard-room, and 
comes out from the room.) 
St. Roche. (To the man.) I'll switch off the lights here. 

(The Servant goes out.) 
Mrs. St. Roche. Well, you had better let him know that he 
mustn't attempt to come to this house again. 
St. Roche. Poor chap! 

Mrs. St. Roche. We can't be associated, however remotely, with 
such a disgraceful connection. 

St. Roche. Of course, of course. (Coming down, glass in hand.) 
I could tell you things I've heard about this Mrs. Ware — 

Mrs. St. Roche. (Rising.) Please don't! I want no details con- 
cerning a person of her world. 



294 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

(She ascends the steps slowly, carrying her cloak and her 
tumbler — without looking back.) 
Goodnight. 

St. Roche. (With a wistful glance at her.) Goodnight. 

(She departs. He stands for a little while contemplating 
space; then he switches off the liglvt. The room remains 
partially illumined by the fire-glow. He turns to examine 
the fire. Apparently assured on that point, he walks, still 
carrying his tumbler, to the door which is in the centre 
wall; where, uttering a little sigh as he opens the door, 
he disappears.) 1 

The passages quoted (pp. 268-275) from The Troublesome 
Reign of King John and Shakespeare's play show crude and 
perfect handling of exits and entrances. In the old play 
the murderers merely enter and go out again as ordered. In 
Shakespeare they enter at the moment which makes them 
the climactic touch in the terror of Arthur and the audience. 
When Hubert orders them to go, it is the first sign that he 
may relent. 

The inexperienced dramatist is almost always wasteful in 
the number of characters used. An adaptation of a Spanish 
story called for a cast of about a dozen important figures 
and some sixty supernumeraries as soldiers and peasants — 
all this in a one-act play. It meant very little labor to cut 
the soldiery to a few officers and some privates, and the 
peasantry to some six or eight people. Ultimately, the total 
cast did not contain a quarter as many people as the original, 
yet nothing important had been lost. Rewriting a play 
often is, and should be, a "slaughter of the innoconts." 
Don't use unneeded people. You must provide them with 
dialogue, and as the play goes on, some justification for 
existence. The manager must pay them salaries. First of 
all, get rid of entirely unnecessary people. They usually 
hold over from the story as originally heard or read. For 

1 Samuel French, New York; W. Heinemann, London. 



CHARACTERIZATION 295 

instance, a recent adaptation used from the original story 
I blinking dwarf sitting silent, forever watchful, at a table 
in the restaurant where the story was placed. His smile 
limply emphasized the cynicism of the story enacted in his 
it. He was in no way necessary to the telling of the 
story, — and so he disappeared in the final form of the play. 
One is constantly tempted to bring in some figure for pur- 
poses of easy exposition only to find that one must either 
bind him in with the story as it develops, or drop him out of 
sight the moment his expository work is done. The trouble 
with such figures is that they are likely to give false clues, 
stirring a hearer to interest in them or their apparent rela- 
tion to the story, when nothing is to come of one or the 
other. Usually a little patience and ingenuity will give this 
needed exposition to some character or characters essential 
to the plot. In a recent play of Breton life during the Chouan 
War, an attractive peasant boy was introduced in order to 
plant in the minds of the audience certain ideas as to imme- 
diate conditions of the war, and the relation of the woman 
to whom he is talking with the Prince, his leader. Wishing 
to show the devotion of the Prince's followers, the author 
had the boy talk much of his own loyalty to his leader. Just 
there was the false clue. Every auditor expected his loyalty 
to lead to something later in the play; but the youth, having 
told his tale, disappeared for good. It took very little time 
to discover that all the young man told could perfectly well 
be made clear in one preceding scene between the woman 
and her son, and two of the other scenes immediately fol- 
lowing, between the woman and the young Prince. It is 
these unnecessary figures who are largely responsible for the 
scenes already spoken of in chapter IV which clog the move- 
ment of a play. 

Sometimes, too, similar figures at different places in a 
play do exactly or nearly the same work, — servants for 



296 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

instance. When it does not interfere with verisimilitude, 
give the tasks to one person rather than two, or two rather 
than three. That is, use only people absolutely needed. 
Sometimes these carelessly introduced figures stray through 
a play like an unquiet spirit. In The Road to Happiness one 
character, Porter, was of so little importance that most of 
the time, when on the stage, he had nothing to do. When 
really acting, it was largely in pantomime, or with speech 
that, not effectively, reiterated what some one else was say- 
ing. He existed really for two scenes. In the first act he 
might just as well have been talked about as shown, and in 
the second act what he did could well have been done by 
one of the other important characters. When any character 
in a play shows a tendency not to get into the action readily; 
when for long periods he is easily overlooked by the author; 
it is time to consider whether he should not be given the 
coup de grace. 

Today we are fortunately departing from an idea some- 
what prevalent in the middle of the nineteenth century, 
that a figure once introduced into a play should be kept 
there until the final curtain. The,t is exalting technique, and 
the so-called "well-made" play, above truth to life. When 
a character is doing needed work, use him when and as long 
as he would appear in real life, and no longer. Use each 
character for a purpose, and when it is fulfilled, drop him. 
Naturalness and theatrical economy are the two tests: the 
greater of these is naturalness. 

All that has been said comes to this. Know your char- 
acters so intimately that you can move, think, and feel with 
them, supplied by them with far more material than you 
can use in any one play. See that they are properly intro- 
duced to the audience; that they are clearly and convinc- 
ingly presented. Do not forget the importance of entrances 
and exits. Cut out all unnecessary figures. 



CHARACTERIZATION 297 

There follow three bits of characterization from very 
rent types of play: Sir John Vanbrugh's The Provoked 
comedy of manners; G. B. Shaw's farce-comedy, 
Sever Can Tell; and Eugene Brieux's thesis play, The 
He. The first scene aims merely to present vividly the riot- 
; ind drunken squire. The second, while characterizing 
William, aims to illustrate that contentment lies in doing 
that to which one is accustomed, under accustomed condi- 
tions. The third not only characterizes; it shows that no 
law of man can wholly give a woman to a second husband 
n common anxiety with the first husband for the child 
of their marriage draws them together. Note in all three 
the use of action as compared with description or analysis; 
the connotative value of the phrasings; the succint sureness. 

THE PROVOKED WIFE 
ACT IV. SCENE, CoverU Garden 

Enter Lord Rake, Sir John, &c, with Swords drawn 

Lord Rake. Is the Dog dead? 

Bully. No, damn him, I heard him wheeze. 

Lord Rake. How the Witch his Wife bowFd! 

Bully. Ay, she'll alarm the Watch presently. 

Lord Rake. Appear, Knight, then; come you have a good Cause 
to fight for, there's a Man murder'd. 

Sir John. Is there? Then let his Ghost be satisfy'd, for I'll 
sacrifice a Constable to it presently, and burn his body upon his 
wooden Chair. 

Enter a Taylor, with a Bundle tinder his Arm 

Bully. How now; what have we here? a Thief. 

Taylor. No, an't please you, I'm no Thief. 

Lord Rake. That we'll see presently: Here; let the General ex- 
amine him. 

Sir John. Ay, ay, let me examine him, and I'll lay a Hundred 
Pound I find him guilty in spite of his Teeth — for he looks — 
like a — sneaking Rascal. 

Come, Sirrah, without Equivocation or mental Reservation, tell 



298 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

me of what opinion you are, and what Calling; for by them — I 
shall guess at your Morals. 

Taylor. An't please you, I 'm a Dissenting Journyman Taylor. 

Sir John. Then, Sirrah, you love Lying by your Religion, and 
Theft by your Trade: And so, that your Punishment may be suit- 
able to your Crimes — I'll have you first gagg'd — and then 
hang'd. 

Taylor. Pray, good worthy Gentlemen, don't abuse me; indeed 
I'm an honest Man, and a good Workman, tho I say it, that shou'd 
not say it. 

Sir John. No words, Sirrah, but attend your Fate. 

Lord Rake. Let me see what's in that Bundle. 

Taylor. An't please you, it is the, Doctor of the Parish's Gown. 

Lord Rake. The Doctor's Gown! — Hark you, Knight, you 
won't stick at abusing the Clergy, will you? 

Sir John. No. I'm drunk, and I'll abuse anything — but my 
Wife; and her I name — with Reverence. 

Lord Rake. Then you shall wear this Gown, whilst you charge 
the Watch: That tho the Blows fall upon you, the Scandal may 
light upon the Church. 

Sir John. A generous Design — by all the Gods — give it me. 

(Takes the Goum> and puts it on.) 

Taylor. O dear Gentlemen, I shall be quite undone, if you take 
the Gown. 

Sir John. Retire, Sirrah; and since you carry off your Skin — go 
home, and be happy. 

Taylor. (Pausing.) I think I had e'en as good follow the Gentle- 
man's friendly Advice; for if I dispute any longer, who knows but 
the Whim may take him to case me? These Courtiers are fuller of 
Tricks than they are of Money; they'll sooner cut a Man's Throat, 
than pay his Bill. (Exit Taylor.) 

Sir John. So, how d'ye like my Shapes now? 

Lord Rake. This will do to a Miracle; he looks like a Bishop go- 
ing to the Holy War. But to your Arms, Gentlemen, the Enemy 
appears. 

Enter Constable and Watch 

Watchman. Stand! Who goes there? Come before the Constable. 
Sir John. The Constable's a Rascal — and you are the Son of a 
Whore. 



CHARACTERIZATION 299 

Watchman. A good civil answer for a Parson, truly! 

Constable. Methinks, Sir, a Man of your Coat might set a better 
i mple. 

Sir John. Sirrah, I'll make you know — there are Men of my 
Coat can set as bad Examples — as you can, you Dog you. 

(Sir John strikes the Constable. They knock him down, dis- 
arm him, and seize him. Lord Rake &c. run away.) 

Constable. So, we have secur'd the Parson however. 

Sir John. Blood, and Blood — and Blood. 

Watchman. Lord have mercy upon us! How the wicked Wretch 
raves of Blood. I'll warrant he has been murdering some body to- 
night. 

Sir John. Sirrah, there's nothing got by Murder but a Halter: 
My Talent lies towards Drunkenness and Simony. 

Watchman. Why that now was spoke like a Man of Parts, Neigh- 
bours; it's pity he should be so disguis'd. 

Sir John. You lye — I'm not disguis'd; for I am drunk bare- 
fae'd. 

Watchman. Look you here again — This is a mad Parson, Mr. 
Constable; I'll lay a Pot of Ale upon's Head, he's a good Preacher. 

Constable. Come, Sir, out of Respect to your Calling, I shan't 
put you into the Round house; but we must secure you in our 
Drawing-Room till Morning, that you may do no Mischief. So, 
come along. 

Sir John. You may put me where you will, Sirrah, now you have 
overcome me — But if I can't do Mischief, I'll think of Mischief 
— in spite of your Teeth, you Dog you. (Exeunt.) l 

YOU NEVER CAN TELL 
ACT IV 

Waiter. (Entering anxiously through the window.) Beg pardon, 
ma'am; but can you tell me what became of that — (He recognizes 
Bohun, and loses all his self-possession. Bohun waits rigidly for him 
to pull himself together. After a pathetic exhibition of confusion, he 
recovers himself sufficiently to address Bohun weakly, but coherently.) 
Beg pardon, sir, I'm sure, sir. Was — was it you, sir? 

Bohun. (Ruthlessly.) It was I. 

Waiter. (Brokenly.) Yes, sir. (Unable to restrain his tears.) You 

» Playi. Vol. 1. J. Tonton, London, 1790. 



300 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

in a false nose, Walter! (He sinks faintly into a chair at the table.) 
I beg your pardon, ma'am, I'm sure. A little giddiness — 

Bohun. (Commandingly.) You will excuse him, Mrs. Clandon, 
when I inform you that he is my father. 

Waiter. (Heartbroken.) Oh, no, no, Walter. A waiter for your 
father on the top of a false nose! What will they think of you? 

Mrs. Clandon. (Going to the waiter's chair in her kindest manner.) 
I am delighted to hear it, Mr. Bohun. Your father has been an ex- 
cellent friend to us since we came here. (Bohun bows gravely.) 

Waiter. (Shaking his head.) Oh, no, ma'am. It's very kind of you 
— very ladylike and affable indeed, ma'am; but I should feel at a 
great disadvantage off my own proper footing. Never mind my 
being the gentleman's father, ma'am: it is only the accident of 
birth, after all, ma'am. (He gets up feebly.) You'll excuse me, I'm 
sure, having interrupted your business. 

(He begins to make his way along the table, supporting him- 
self from chair to chair, with his eye on the door.) 

(Bohun.) One moment. (The waiter stops, with a sinking heart.) 
My father was a witness of what passed to-day, was he not, Mrs. 
Clandon? 

Mrs. Clandon. Yes, most of it, I think. 

Bohun. In that case we shall want him. 

Waiter. (Pleading.) I hope it may not be necessary, sir. Busy 
evening for me, sir, with that ball: very busy evening indeed, 
sir. 

Bohun. (Inexorably.) We shall want you. 

Mrs. Clandon. (Politely.) Sit down, won't you? 

Waiter. (Earnestly.) Oh, if you please, ma'am, I really must 
draw the line at sitting down. I could n't let myself be seen doing 
such a thing, ma'am: thank you, I am sure, all the same. 

(He looks round from face to face wretchedly, with an ex- 
pression that would melt a heart of stone.) 

Gloria. Don't let us waste time. William only wants to go on 
taking care of us. I should like a cup of coffee. 

Waiter. (Brightening perceptibly.) Coffee, miss? (He gives a little 
gasp of hope.) Certainly, miss. Thank you, miss: very timely, miss, 
very thoughtful and considerate indeed. (To Mrs. Clandon, tim- 
idly, but expectantly.) Anything for you, ma'am? 

Mrs. Clandon. Er — oh, yes: it's so hot, I think we might have 
a jug of claret cup. 

Waiter. (Beaming.) Claret cup, ma'am! Certainly ma'am. 



CHARACTERIZATION 301 

Gloria. Oh, well, I'll have claret cup instead of coffee. Put some 
encumber in it. 

Waiter, (Delightedly.) Cucumber, miss! yes, miss. (To Bohun.) 
Anything special for you, sir? You don't like cucumber, sir. 
hun. If Mrs. Clandon will allow me — syphon, Scotch. 
Waiter, flight, sir. (To Crampton.) Irish for you, sir, I think 
sir? [Cramphm assents icith a grunt. The waiter looks enquiringly at 
Valentine.) 
Valentine. I like the cucumber. 

Waiter. Right, sir. (Summing up.) Claret cup, syphon, one 
Scotch, and one Irish? 

Mrs. Clandon. I think that's right. 

Waiter. (Perfectly happy.) Right ma'am. Directly, ma'am. 
Thank you. 

(He ambles off through the window, having sounded the 
whole gamut of human happiness, from the bottom to the 
top in a little over two minutes.) l 



THE CRADLE (LE BERCEAU) 
ACT I. SCENE 9 

[Laurence and Raymond, her first husband, meet by 
chance by the sick bed of their little boy, M. de Girieu, the 
second husband, who is madly jealous of Raymond, and 
of Laurence's love for her boy, has just refused Raymond's 
request to be allowed to watch by the child till he is out of 
danger. Resting confidently on the control over Laurence 
and the boy which the laws give him, M. de Girieu is sure he 
can keep his wife and her former husband apart.] 

Long silent scene. The door of little Julien's room opens softly. 
Laurence appears with a paper in her hand. The two men separate, 
watching her intently. She looks out for a long time, then shuts the 
door, taking every precaution not to make a noise. After a gesture of 
profound grief, she comes forward, deeply moved, but tearless. She 
makes no more gestures. Her face is grave. Very simply she goes 
straight to Raymond. 

1 Plays rieatant and Unpleasant. Brentano, New York. 



302 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

Raymond. (Very simply to Laurence.) Well? 

Laurence. (In the same manner.) He has just dropped asleep. 

Ray. The fever? 

Lau. Constant. 

Ray. Has the temperature been taken? 

Lau. Yes. 

Ray. How much? 

Lau. Thirty-nine. 

Ray. The cough? 

Lau. Incessant. He breathes with difficulty. 

Ray. His face is flushed? 

Lau. Yes. 

Ray. The doctor gave you a prescription? 

Lau. I came to show it to you. I don't thoroughly understand 
this. 

(They are close to each other, examining the prescription 
which Raymond holds.) 

Ray. (Reading.) "Keep an even temperature in the sick room." 

Lau. Yes. 

Ray. "Wrap the limbs in cotton wool, and cover that with oiled 
silk." I am going to do that myself as soon as he wakes. Tell them 
to warn me. 

Lau. What ought he to have to drink? I forgot to ask that, and 
he is thirsty. 

Ray. Mallow. 

Lau. I'm sure he doesn't like it. 

Ray. Yes, yes. You remember when he had the measles. 

Lau. Yes, yes. How anxious we were then, too! 

Ray. He drank it willingly. You remember perfectly? 

Lau. Yes, of course I remember. Some mallow then. Let us 
read the prescription again. I have n't forgotten anything? Mus- 
tard plasters. The cotton wool, you will attend to that. And I will 
go have the drink made. "In addition — every hour — a ccffee- 
spoonful of the following medicine." 

(The curtain falls slowly as she continues to read. M. de 
Girieu has gone out slowly during the last words.) l 

Finally, contrast the treatment by John Webster and 
Robert Browning of the same dramatic situation. Wnich is 
the clearer, which depends more on illustrative action? 

» P. V. Stock, Paris. 



CHARACTERIZATION 303 

Enter Antonio 

Duchess. I sent for you; sit downe: 

Take pen and inckc, and write: are you ready? 

Antonio. Yes. 

Duch. What did I say? 

Ant. That I should write some-what. 

Duch. Oh, I remember: 

Alter this triumph and this large expence, 
It's fit (like thrifty husbands) we enquire, 
What's laid up for tomorrow. 

Ant. So please your beauteous excellence. 

Duch. Beauteous? 

Indeed I thank you: I look yong for your sake. 
You have tane my cares upon you. 

Ant. I'le fetch your grace 

The particulars of your revinew and expence. 

Duch. Oh, you are an upright treasurer: but you mistooke, 
For when I said I meant to make enquiry 
What's layd up for tomorrow, I did meane 
What's layd up yonder for me. 

Ant. Where? 

Duch. In heaven. 

I am making my will (as 'tis fit princes should 
In perfect memory), and I pray sir, tell me 
Were not one better make it smiling, thus, 
Then in deepe groanes, and terrible ghastly lookes, 
As if the guifts we parted with procur'd 
That violent distraction? 

Ant. Oh, much better. 

Duch. If I had a husband now, this care were quit: 
But I intend to make you over-seer. 
What good deede shall we first remember? say. 

Ant. Begin with that first good deede began i' th' world, 
After man's creation, the sacrament of marriage. 
I'ld have you first provide for a good husband: 
Give him all. 

Duch. All? 

Ant. Yes, your excellent selfe. 

Duch. In a winding sheete? 

Ant. In a cople. 



304 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

Duck. St. Winifrid, that were a strange will! 

Ant. 'Twere strange if there were no will in you 
To marry againe. 

Duck. What doe you thinke of marriage? 

Ant. I take't, as those that deny purgatory, 
It locally containes or heaven or hell; 
There's no third place in't. 

Duch. How doe you affect it? 

Ant. My banishment, feeding my mellancholly, / 
Would often reason thus — 

Duck. Pray let's heare it. 

Ant. Say a man never marry, nor have children, 
What takes that from him? onely the bare name 
Of being a father, or the weake delight 
To see the little wanton ride a cock-horse 
Upon a painted sticke, or heare him chatter 
Like a taught starling. 

Duch. Fye, fie, what's all this? 

One of your eyes is blood-shot; use my ring to't. 
They say 'tis very soveraigne; 'twas my wedding-ring, 
And I did vow never to part with it, 
But to my second husband. 

Ant. You have parted with it now. 

Duch. Yes, to helpe your eye-sight. 

Ant. You have made me starke blind. 

Duch. How? 

Ant. There is a sawcy and ambitious divell 
Is dauncing in this circle. 

Duch. Remoove him. 

Ant. How? 

Duch. There needs small conjuration, when your finger 
May doe it: thus, is it fit? 

Ant. WTiat sayd you? (He kneeles.) 

Duch. Sir, 

This goodly roofe of yours is too low built; 
I cannot stand upright in't, nor discourse, 
Without I raise it higher : raise yourself e, 
Or if you please, my hand to help you : so. 

Ant. Ambition, madam, is a great man's madnes, 
That is not kept in chaines and close-pentoomea, 
But in fair lightsome lodgings, and is girt 



CHARACTERIZATION 305 

With the wild noyce of pratling visitants, 
Which makes it lunatique, beyond all cure. 
Conceive not I am so ftupid l>ut I ayme 
Whereto your favours lend: but he's a foole 
That (being a cold) would thrust his hands i' th' fire 
To warme them. 

Duck. So, now the ground's broake, 

You may discover what a wealthy mine 
I make you lord of. 

Ant. Oh my unworthiness! 

Duch. You were ill to sell your selfe: 
This darkning of your worth is not like that 
Which trades-men use i' th' city; their false lightes 
Are to rid bad wares off: and I must tell you, 
If you will know where breathes a compleat man 
(I speake it without flattery), turne your eyes, 
And progresse through your selfe. 

Ant. Were there nor heaven, nor hell, 
I should be honest: I have long serv'd vertue, 
And nev'r tane wages of her. 

Duch. Now she paies it. 

The misery of us that are borne great, 
We are forc'd to woe, because none dare woe us: 
And as a tyrant doubles with his words, 
And fearefully equivocates, so we 
Are forc'd to expresse our violent passions 
In ridles and in dreames, and leave the path 
Of simple vertue, which was never made 
To seeme the thing it is not. Goe, go brag 
You have left me heartlesse; mine is in your bosom: 
I hope 'twill multiply love there. You doe tremble: 
Make not your heart so dead a peece of flesh, 
To feare, more then to love me. Sir, be confident, 
What is't distracts you? This is flesh and blood, sir; 
'Tis not the figure cut in allablaster 
Kneeles at my husbands tombe. Awake, awake, man, 
I do here put off all vaine ceremony, 
And onely doe appeare to you a yong widow 
That claimes you for her husband, and like a widow, 
I use but halfe a blush in't. 



306 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

Ant. Truth speake for me, 

I will remaine the constant sanctuary 
Of your good name. 1 

This is Browning's version: 

Duchess. Say what you did through her, and she through 
you — 
The praises of her beauty afterward! 
Will you? 

Valence. I dare not. 

Duch. Dare not? 

Vol. She I love 

Suspects not such a love in me. 

Duch. You jest. 

Vol. The lady is above me and away. 
Not only the brave form, and the bright mind, 
And the great heart combine to press me low — 
But all the world calls rank divides us. 

Duch. Rank! 

Now grant me patience! Here's a man declares 
Oracularly in another's case — 
Sees the true value and the false, for them — 
Nay, bids them see it, and they straight do see. 
You called my court's love worthless — so it turned: 
I threw away as dross my heap of wealth, 
And here you stickle for a piece or two! 
First — ' has she seen you? 

Vol. Yes. 

Duch. She loves you, then. 

Vol. One flash of hope burst; then succeeded night: 
And all's at darkest now. Impossible! 

Duch. We'll try: you are — so to speak — my subject yet? 

Vol. As ever — to the death. 

Duch. Obey me, then! 

Vol. I must. 

Duch. Approach her, and ... no! first of all 

Get more assurance. "My instructress," say, 
"Was great, descended from a line of kings, 
"And even fair" — (wait why I say this folly) — 

1 The Duchess of Malfi, Act i, Sc. 2. Webster. Belles-Lettres Series. M. W. Sampson, ed. 
D. C. Heath & Co., Boston and New York. 



CHARACTERIZATION 307 

"She said, of all men, none for eloquence, 

"Courage, and (what cast even these to shade) 

"The heart they sprung from, — none deserved like him 

"Who saved her at her need: if she said this, 

"Why should not one I love, say?" 

Vol. Heaven — this hope — 

Oh, lady, you are filling me with fire! 

Duck. Say this! — nor think I bid you cast aside 
Ono touch of all the awe and reverence; 
Nay, make her proud for once to heart's content 
That all this wealth of heart and soul's her own! 
Think you are all of this, — and, thinking it, 
. . . (Obey!) 

Vol. I cannot choose. 

Duch. Then, kneel to her! 

(Valence sinks on his knee.) 
I dream! 

Vol. Have mercy! yours, unto the death, — 
I have obeyed. Despise, and let me die! 

Duch. Alas, sir, is it to be ever thus? 
Even with you as with the world? I know 
This morning's service was no vulgar deed 
Whose motive, once it dares avow itself, 
Explains all done and infinitely more, 
So, takes the shelter of a nobler cause. 
Your service names its true source, — loyalty I 
The rest's unsaid again. The Duchess bids you, 
Rise, sir! The Prince's words were in debate. 

Vol. (Rising.) Rise? Truth, as ever, lady, comes from you! 
I should rise — I who spoke for Cleves, can speak 
For Man — yet tremble now, who stood firm then. 
I laughed — for 'twas past tears — that Cleves should starve 
With all hearts beating loud the infamy, 
And no tongue daring trust as much to air: 
Yet here, where all hearts speak, shall I be mute? 
Oh, lady, for your sake look on me! 
On all I am, and have, and do — heart, brain, 
Body and soul, — this Valence and his gifts! 
I was proud once: I saw you, and then sank, 
So that each, magnified a thousand times, 
Were nothing to you — but such nothingness, 



308 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

Would a crown gild it, or a sceptre prop, 

A treasure speed, a laurel-wreath enhance? 

What is my own desert? But should your love 

Have . . . there's ho language helps here . . . singled me, — 

Then — oh, that wild word "then!" — be just to love, 

In generosity its attribute! 

Love, since you pleased to love! All's cleared — a stage 

For trial of the question kept so long : 

Judge you — Is love or vanity the best? 

You, solve it for the world's sake — you, speak first 

What all will shout one day — you, vindicate 

Our earth and be its angel! All is said. 

Lady, I offer nothing — I am yours: 

But, for the cause' sake, look on me and him, 

And speak! 

Duck. I have received the Prince's message: 
Say, I prepare my answer! 

Vol. Take me, Cleves! (He withdraws.) 1 

The formula for the would-be dramatist so far as his 
/ people are concerned is this : A play which aims to be real in 
1 depicting life must illustrate character by characterization 
\^hich is in character. 

1 Colombe'a Birthday, Act iv, Scene 1. Robert Browning. Belles-Lettres Serie#- 
A. Bates, ed. D. C. Heath & Co., Boston and N«w York. 



CHAPTER Vin 

DIALOGUE 

Modern dramatic dialogue had beginnings far from realis- 
tic It originated, as the Latin tropes show, in speeches 
given in unison and to music — a kind of recitative. What 
was the aim of this earliest dramatic dialogue? It sought to 
convey, first, last, and always, the facts of the episode or 
incident represented: "Whom seek ye here, O Christians? 
is of Nazareth, the Crucified, O Heavenly Ones." And 
that is what good dramatic dialogue has always done, is 
doing, and must always do as its chief work — state clearly 
the facts which an auditor must understand if the play is to 
move ahead steadily and clearly. Already enough has been 
said (chapter VI, pp. 154-183) as to the need of clear pre- 
liminary and later exposition to show how axiomatic is the 
statement that the chief purpose of good dialogue is to 
convey necessary information clearly. 

Even, however, when dialogue is clear in its statement of 
needed information, it may still be confusing for reader or 
hearer. What is the trouble with the text in the left-hand 
column — from an early draft of a play dealing with John 
Brown and his fortunes? 

SCENE: The Prison at Harper's Ferry 

Brown. Mary! I'm glad to Brown. Mary! I'm glad to 

see you, Mary. see you, Mary. 

(For a few seconds, silence.) (For a few seconds, silence.) 

Mrs. Brown. (Crying out.) Mrs. Brown. (Crying out.) 

Oh, my dear husband, it is a Oh, my dear husband, it is a 

hard fate. hard fate. It's been so long since 

Brown. (Strong in his com- I heard your voice. 

posure.) Well, well, Mary, let Brown. (Strong in his com- 



3io 



DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 



us be cheerful. We must all 
bear it the best we can. 

(Stroking her hair.) 

Mrs. Brown. Oh! You to go 
from me forever. 

(Sinks her head on his breast 
again.) 

Brown. It must be, — and all 
is for the best. There, there. 
(Pats her head in an effort 
to comfort her.) 

Mrs. Brown. But our poor 
children, John. 

Brown. Those that have died 
are at peace in the next world. 
(She breaks out weeping again.) 
Come, come, dry your tears; sit 
down and tell me about those at 
home. (He tries to lead her to 
chair on right of table, but she 
checks her grief and seats herself. 
He goes slowly back to the other 
chair.) It weakens me to stand. 
Now tell me about home. 

Mrs. Brown. It's a sad place. 
We couldn't believe the first 
reports about you and the 
boys being taken prisoners. We 
couldn't believe you had failed. 
Then a New York paper came. 
We sat by the fire in the liv- 
ing room. There was Watson's 
widow — 

Brown. Poor Isabel, with her 
little Freddie. 

Mrs. Brown. And William 
Thompson's widow, our Ruth, 
and Annie, and Oliver's 
widow — 

Brown. Poor Martha. When 
the time came it was hard for 



posure.) Well, well, Mary, let 
us be cheerful. We must all 
bear it the best we can. 

(Stroking her hair.) 

Mrs. Brown. Oh! You to go 
from me forever. 

(Sinks her head on his breast 
again.) 

Brown. It must be, — and 
all is for the best. There, there. 
(Pats her head in an effort 
to comfort her.) 

Mrs. Brown. (After a mo- 
ment's silence.) Do they treat 
you well here, John? 

Brown. Like Joseph, I have 
gained favor in the sight of the 
prison-keeper. He is a most hu- 
mane gentleman — never mis- 
treats or tries to humiliate me. 

Mrs. Brown. May God bless 
such a man. Do you sleep any, 
John? 

Brown. Like a child, — all 
night in peace. 

Mrs. Brown. I am glad of 
that. I worried about it. Are 
the days long and lonesome? 

Brown. All hours of the day 
glorious thoughts come to me. 
I am kept busy reading and 
answering letters from my 
friends. I have with me my 
Bible, here. (Placing his hand 
on the leather-bound volume at 
the end of the table.) It is of in- 
finite comfort. I never enjoyed 
life more than since coming to 
prison. I wish all my poor fam- 
ily were as composed and as 
happy. 



DIALOGUE 



3ii 



Ml to leave the farm house and 
Oliver behind. She kind of felt 
that she wouldn't see him any 
more. 

Mrs. Brown. We said almost 
nothing while Salmon read. We 
felt in our blindness God had 
been unfaithful to you and the 
boys. 

llrmcn. My dear wife, you 
must keep up your spirits. 
Don't blame God. He has taken 
away my sword of steel, but He 
has given me the sword of the 
Spirit. 

Mrs. Brown. {Looking up 
into his face with almost a sad 
smile upon hers.) That sounds 
just like you, John. Oh, it's 
been so long since I heard your 
voice. 

Brown. Tell me more about 
the family. 

Mrs. Brown. Owen doesn't 
dare come home yet. 

Brown. Do you know where 
be is? 

Mrs. Brown. Hiding among 
friends in Ohio. Poor boy, he is 
called all kinds of vile names, 
just for being with you. 

Brown. For the cause we have 
all suffered much in the past; 
we shall have to in the future. 
We should rejoice at his escape. 

Mrs. Brown. I do, John, but 
O, poor Oliver and Watson! We 
shall never see them again. 

Brown. Not in this world, but 
we shall meet together in that 
other world where they do not 



Mrs. Brown. But our poor 
children, John. Poor Oliver and 
Watson. We shall never see 
them again. 

Brown. Those that have died 
are at peace. (She breaks out 
weeping again.) But we shall 
meet together in that other world 
where they do not shoot and 
hang men for loving justice and 
desiring freedom for all men. 
Come, come, dry your tears. 
Sit down and tell me about those 
at home. (He tries to lead her 
to chair on right of table, but she 
checks her grief and seats herself. 
He goes slowly back to the other 
chair.) It weakens me to stand. 
Now, tell me about home, for 
that will give me comfort, Mary. 
No man can get into difficulties 
too big to be surmounted if he 
has a firm foothold at home. 

Mrs. Brown. It's a sad place. 
We couldn't believe the first 
reports about you and the boys 
being taken prisoners. We 
wouldn't believe you had failed. 

Brown. I have been a great 
deal disappointed in myself for 
not keeping to my plan. 

Mrs. Brown. You made a mis- 
take only in judging how much 
you could do. 

Brown. I acted against my 
better judgment. 

Mrs. Brown. But after taking 
the arsenal, why didn't you flee 
to the mountains, as we thought 
you would? 

Brown. The delay was my 



31 2 



DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 



shoot and hang men for loving 
justice and desiring freedom for 
all men. 

Mrs. Brown. Yes, and they 
did die for a great and good 
cause! (Said with spirit.) 

Brown. Some day all the 
people of the earth will say 
that. (A moment's silence.) 

Mrs. Brown. Do they treat 
you well here, John? 

Brown. Like Joseph, I have 
gained favor in the sight of the 
prison-keeper. He is a most hu- 
mane gentleman — never mis- 
treats or tries to humiliate me. 

Mrs. Brown. May God bless 
such a man. Do you sleep any, 
John? 

Brown. Like a child, — all 
night in peace. 

Mrs. Brown. I 'm glad of that. 
I worried about it. Are the days 
long and lonesome? 

Brown. All hours of the day 
glorious thoughts come to me. 
I am kept busy reading and 
answering letters from my 
friends. I have with me my 
Bible, here. (Placing his hand 
on the leather-bound volume at the 
end of the table.) It is of infinite 
comfort. I never enjoyed life 
more than since coming to 
prison. I wish all my poor fam- 
ily were as composed and as 
happy. 

Mrs. Brown. We have be- 
come more and more resigned. 

Brown. Do any feel disgrace 
or shame? 



mistake. But in God's greater 
and broader plan maybe it was 
infinitely better. It was fore- 
ordained to work out that way, 
determined before the world was 
made. 

Mrs. Brown. His ways are 
mysterious and wonderful. 
(A slight pause as both think.) 

Brown. How did you first get 
the news? 

Mrs. Brown. A New York 
paper came. We sat by the fire 
in the living room. There was 
Watson's widow — 

Brown. Poor Isabel, with her 
little Freddie. 

Mrs. Brown. And William 
Thompson's widow, our Ruth, 
and Annie, and Oliver's 
widow — 

Brown. Poor Martha. When 
the time came, it was hard for 
her to leave the farm house and 
Oliver behind. She kind of felt 
she wouldn't see him any more. 

Mrs. Brown. We said almost 
nothing while Salmon read. We 
felt in our blindness God had 
been unfaithful to you and the 
boys. 

Brown. My dear wife, you 
must keep up your spirits . Don't 
blame God. He has taken away 
my sword of steel, but He has 
given me the sword of the Spirit. 

Mrs. Brown. (Looking up 
into his face with almost a sad 
smile upon hers.) That sounds 
just like you, John. We have 
become more and more resigned. 



DIALOGUE 



3«3 



Mrs. Brown. Not one, John. 

| in our eyes, a noble 

martyr. The chains on your 

intl our hearts all the 

r to you. 

Brown. That gives me com- 
fort. Mary. No man can get 
into difficulties too big to be sur- 
mounted, if he has a firm foot- 
hold at home. 

Mrs. Brown. You made a 
mistake only in judging how 
much you could do. 

Brown. I have been a great 
deal disappointed in myself for 
not keeping to my plan. I acted 
against my better judgment. 

Mrs. Brown. But after tak- 
ing the arsenal, why didn't you 
flee to the mountains, as we 
thought you would? 

Brown. The delay was my 
mistake. But in God's greater 
and broader plan, maybe it was 
infinitely better. It was fore- 
ordained to work out that way, 
determined before the world 
was made. 

Mrs. Brown. His ways are 
mysterious and wonderful. 

(Avis comes in.) 

There are several faults in the original dialogue, butper- 
haps the chief is not regarding the principle that clearness 
dramatically consists, not merely in stating needed facts, 
but in so stating them that interest is not allowed to lapse. 
The original dialogue was scrappy, lacking sequence, not 
so much of thought as of emotion. If it be said that at such 
a moment talk is often fitful, it must be remembered that 
our time-limits forbid giving every word said in such a scene. 



Brown. Do any feel disgrace 
or shame? 

Mrs. Brown. Not one, John. 
You are, in our eyes, a noble 
martyr. The chains on your 
legs bind our hearts all the closer 
to you. 

Brown. Tell me more about 
the family. 

Mrs. Brown. Owen doesn't 
dare come home yet. 

Brown. Do you know where 
he is? 

Mrs. Brown. Hiding among 
friends in Ohio. Poor boy, he is 
called all kinds of vile names, 
just for being with you. 

Brown. For the cause we have 
all suffered much in the past; 
we shall have to in the future. 
We should rejoice at his escape. 

Mrs. Brown. I do, John. And 
Oliver and Watson did die for 
a great and good cause! 

(Said with spirit.) 

Brown. Some day, all the 

people of the earth will say that. 

(Avis comes in.) 



3H 



DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 



We must present merely its essentials. Only in that way 
may a play, a condensed presentation of life, hope to give 
a total effect for a scene equal to that of the original. The 
re-ordered dialogue of the right-hand column seeks merely 
to bring together ideas really closely related, and to move, 
in a way in keeping with the characters, from lesser to 
stronger emotion. With the disappearance of the scrappy 
effect, is not the result clearer? Even now, the dialogue might 
well be condensed and made emotionally more significant. 

If we let the dialogue of a play merely state necessary 
facts, what is the result? At the worst, something like the 
left-hand column. Two young women, one the married 
hostess and the other the friend of her girlhood, are opening 
their morning mail on the piazza. Serena, the hostess, has 
known nothing of the engagement of Elise to Teddy. 



ORIGINAL 

Elise. (Looking up from her 
letters.) Is he coming? 

Serena. I don't know yet, but 
I wish he were still in South 
Africa. If he does come, I don't 
know what will happen. There's 
a letter from Aunt Deborah. 

Elise. Yes? What does she 
want? 

Serena. Did you know she 
had a terrible quarrel with 
Teddy just before he went to 
South Africa? 

Elise. I had a vague idea of it. 
It must all be made up now and 
they '11 be delighted to meet here. 

Serena. No, she won't. She 
says she's sure she'll have a 
shock if she sees him and very 
gladly accepts our kind invita- 
tion because so she can avoid 
meeting him. 



REVISION ' 

Elise. Is he coming? 

Serena. I don't know yet, but 
I wish he were still in South 
Africa. Look at this: (Showing 
letter.) A letter from Aunt De- 
borah. 

Elise. Yes? 

Serena. Aunt Deborah had a 
terrible quarrel with Teddy just 
before he went! 

Elise. Oh, that must be all 
made up now. 

Serena. Listen! (Reading 
from letter.) "If I see that man 
I'll have a shock," and (with a 
despairing gesture) she very 
gladly accepts our invitation! 



DIALOGUE 315 

From the left-hand column we surely do learn that a 
before-mentioned Teddy has been in South Africa; that he 
a n< I a certain Aunt Deborah have quarreled; and that 
though she particularly does not wish to meet Teddy, she 
is coming, as he is, to visit at this house — three important 
points. Like everyday speech, the quoted dialogue lacks 
compactness. Let us first, therefore, cut out all that is not 
absolutely necessary. We do not need, in the first speech 
of Elise, anything more than the query, "Yes?" The inflec- 
tion will give the rest. In the second speech of Serena we 
can cut "to South Africa," for we have already mentioned 
where Teddy has been. In the second speech of Elise, it is 
the words "It must be all made up now" that are impor- 
tant. What precedes and what follows may be omitted. Sim- 
ilarly, in the first and second speeches of Serena, it is the 
first and the third sentences which are important. The 
second, if given, really anticipates an effect which will be 
stronger later. If we change the second speech from a 
query to an assertion or an exclamation, we shall gain and 
slightly condense. It will then read, "Aunt Deborah had 
a terrible quarrel with Teddy just before he went! " Because 
we have cut the last speech of Elise, the first sentence of the 
next speech of Serena becomes unnecessary. It will be neces- 
sary, however, to re-phrase what remains of this final 
speech, so hard is it to deliver. The revised dialogue may 
still be poor enough, but it says all the original did in less 
space — that is condensation. The effect is better because 
we have cut out some parts, and have slightly changed 
others. That is selection. The slight changes have been 
made in order to make the sequence of ideas clearer, to 
suggest emotion more clearly, or to make the dialogue 
natural — and all that means the beginning of characteri- 
zation. The final word on this dialogue is, however, that 
even now either speaker could utter the words of the other, 



316 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

and that is all wrong. Clearly, then, even in stating facts, 
dialogue may be bad, indifferent, and good. 

The following opening of a Japanese No drama shows 
that even more trained writers may write dialogue with no 
virtue except its clearness : 

TWO HEARTS 

A drama by J. Mushakoji 

SCENE: A forest glade on the nobleman's estate. A cross for 
crucifixion in the foreground. Two men A and B standing on either 
side of the cross holding spears. 

A. That fellow has behaved foolishly! 

B. Yes, and the girl also. 

A. It was certain that they would be killed when found out. 

B. And nothing could prevent the discovery. 

A. Our master is extremely indignant. 

B. There has not been one person crucified since the present 
lord succeeded. 

A. Although the stewards have assured him that it is the estab- 
lished law of the land, the present master has never given per- 
mission for the punishment of criminals by crucifixion and fire. 
But now he has announced that he will kill them in this manner, 
and we are commissioned to carry out the disagreeable duty. 

B. Even though we refused to obey the command at first and 
requested him to excuse us he would not listen to our petition. 

A. The master must have been very fond of this young girl. 

B. Yes. Rumour has it that he became attached to her while 
the late mistress was still living. 

A. He did not care very much for his wife. Anyway, she was too 
inferior to be his companion. 

B. It was said that he did not grieve over her death. 

A. And I have heard that the girl fainted when her mistress 
died. 

B. She must have been a favourite among the other attendants 
who accompanied the lady when she became the wife of the lord. 

A. She was clever and pretty and had a strong character. 

B. Why did the girl fall in love with that fellow, I wonder? 
A. He is the kind of a man a woman admires. 









DIALOGUE 317 

B. And because the girl loved him he now receives such severe 
punishment. 

A. We can never tell. What seems good luck may mean unex- 
.1 misfortune. 

/>'. She would have been happier if she had obeyed the master's 
will instead of rejecting him. 

A. Probably she did not like him. 

B. But he seemed to care a great deal for her. 

A. It may not be right to say so, but his decision seems to have 
been taken because of his jealousy. 

B. Yes, that is true. I wonder why he has commanded us to pre- 
pare only one cross. 

A. Perhaps it is his plan to save one of them. 

B. I don't think that could be done very well. 

A. But some one said the master told the girl that he would save 
her life if she would only desert the young man for him. 

B. That may be so. Perhaps he intends to crucify the young 
man first in the presence of the girl so as to break her obstinate 
spirit and thus gain her love. 

A. That may be so. 

B. It is said that the young man has already repented of his love 
for the girl. But she was not at all frightened when the punish- 
ment was announced and she was informed that she was to be 
crucified. The man, on the contrary, at once turned white and al- 
most fainted when he heard the judgment passed upon him. 

A. But a woman is much braver in love affairs than a man. 

B. You speak as though you had had experience! 

A. Ha! Ha! Ha! 

B. Perhaps the master wishes to kill the young man in as cruel 
a manner as possible. 

A. Hush! The lord is here! We are now obliged to remain silent 
and witness a living drama. 

B. And we have a dreadful task to perform. 1 

Though this omits nothing in the way of necessary infor- 
mation, how colorless it is! When we note how perfectly 
either A or B could speak the lines of the other, we see 
where the difficulty lies. The lines lack all characterization. 
The history of the drama shows that while the facts of a 

1 The Far East, June 6, 1914, p. 205. 



3* 



DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 



play may be interesting in themselves, they are much more 
interesting to an audience which hears them as they present 
themselves to well-defined characters of the story. It is 
axiomatic that sympathy quickens interest. Take a much 
better known illustration of the same point. The left-hand 
column gives the opening lines of the first quarto, Hamlet, 
The right-hand column shows the opening of the second 
quarto. 

Enter Barnardo and Francisco, 
two Centinels 

Barnardo. Whose there? 
Francisco. [Nay answere me.] 
Stand and unfolde your selfe. 
Bar. Long live the King. 
Fran. Barnardo. 
Bar. Hee. 

Fran. You come most care- 
fully upon your houre. 

Bar. Tis now strooke twelfe, 
get thee to bed Francisco. 

Fran. For this relief much 
thanks, [tis bitter cold,] And I 
am sick at heart. 

Bar. Have you had quiet 
guard? 

Fran. [Not a mouse stirring.] 
Bar. Well, good night: 
#. And if you meete Mar- If you doe meete Horatio and 
cellus and Horatio, Marcellus, 

The partners of my watch, bid The rivals of my watch, bid 
them make haste. them make hast. 

1. I will: See who goes there. 



1. 



Enter two Centinels 
Stand : who is that? 
Tis I. 



O you come most care- 
fully upon your watch. 



Enter Horatio and Marcellus 



Horatio. Friends 
ground. 



to this 



Enter Horatio and Marcellus 
Fran. I think I heare them, 

stand ho, who is there? 

Horatio. Friends to this 

ground. 






DIALOGUE 319 

MarttUu$. And leegemen to Marcellua. And Leedgemen 
the Dane, to the Dane, 

Fran. Give you good night. 

farewell honest souldier, who Mar. O, farewell honest soul- 

hath relieved you? diers, who hath relieved you? 

1. Barnardo hath my place, Fran. Baniardo hath my 

give you good night. place; give you good night. 

(Exit Francisco.) 1 



The first of these extracts, without question gives the 
necessary facts of the changing of the watch. It busies itself 
only with this absolutely necessary action. The second 
quarto identifies the speakers, and, by a different phrasing 
with additional lines, both characterizes them and gives 
the scene atmosphere. Study the re-phrasings and brack- 
eted additions of the second scene — "Nay answere me," 
"Tis bitter cold," "Not a mouse stirring" — and note that 
this dialogue gains over the first in that it interests by what 
it adds as much as by the essential action. 

A second quotation from Hamlet in the two quartos illus- 
trates the same point even better. The text in the left-hand 
column, merely stating the facts necessary to the movement 
of the scene, leaves to the actor all characterizing of Mon- 
tano, and gives the player of Corambis only the barest hints. 
The second quarto text, in the right-hand column, makes 
Polonius so garrulous that he cannot keep track of his own 
ideas; shows his pride in his would-be shrewdness; indeed, 
rounds him out into a real character. It even makes Rey- 
naldo a man who does not yield at once, but a person of 
honorable instincts who is overborne. Can there be any 
question which scene holds the attention better? 

1 The Devoruhire Hamlett, pp. 1-2. 



320 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

Enter Corambis and Montano 



Corambis. Montano; here, 
these letters to mysonne, 

And this same money with my 
blessing to him, 

And bid him ply his learning 
good Montano. 



Montano. I will my lord. 
Cor. You shall do very well 
Montano, to say thus, 



I knew the gentleman, or know 

his father 
To inquire the manner of his 

life, 
And thus; being amongst his 

acquaintance, 
You may say, you saw him at 

such a time, marke you 

mee, 



Enter old Polonius, with his 

man or two 
Polonius. Give him this 
money and these notes 
Reynaldo. 
Reynaldo. I will my Lord. 
Pol. You shall doe marviles 
wisely good Reynaldo 
Before you visite him to make 

inquire 
Of his behaviour. 
Rey. My Lord, I did intend 

it. 
Pol. Mary well said, very 
well said: look you sir, 
Enquire me first what Danskers 

are in Parris, 
And how, and who, what meanes 

and where they keepe, 
What companie, at what ex- 
pence, and finding 
By this encompasment, and 

drift of question 
That they doe know my sonne, 

come you more neerer 
Then your particular demands 

will tuch it, 
Take you as t'were some dis- 
tant knowledge of him, 
As thus, I know his father, 

and his friends, 
And in part him, doe you marke 
this, Reynaldo? 
Rey. I, very well my Lord. 
Pol. And in part him, but 
you may say, not well, 
But y'ft be he I meane, hee's 

very wilde, 
Adicted so and so, and there put 
on him 






DIALOGUE 



3 21 



At game, or drincking, swear- 
ing, or drabbing, 
You may go so farre. 
Man. My Lord, that will im- 
peach his reputation. 
Cor. I faith not a whit, no 
not a whit, 



What forgeries you please, 

marry none so ranck 
As may dkhooom him, take 

heede of tliat, 
But sir, such wanton, wild, and 

usuall slips 
As are companions noted and 

most knowne 
To youth and libertie. 
Rey. As gaming my Lord. 
Pol. I, or drinking, fencing, 

swearing, 
Quarrelling, drabbing, you may 

go so far. 
Rey. My Lord, that would 

dishonour him. 
Pol. Fayth as you may season 

it in the charge. 
You must not put another scar* 

dell on him, 
That he is open to incontinencie, 
That's not my meaning, but 

breath his faults so quently 
That they may seeme the taints 

of libertie, 
The flash and out-breake of a 

fierie mind, 
A savagenes in unreclamed 

blood 
Of generall assault. 

Rey. But my good Lord. 
Pol. Wherefore should you 

do this? 
Rey. I my Lord, I would 

know that. 
Pol. Marry, sir, heer's my 

drift, 
And I believe it is a fetch of wit, 
You laying these slight sallies 

on my sonne 
As t'were a thing a little soy Id 

with working, 



322 



DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 






Now happely hee closeth with 
you in the consequence, 

As you may bridle it not dis- 
parage him a iote. 



What was I about to say, 



Mon. He closeth with you in 
the consequence. 



Marke you, your partie in con- 
verse, him you would 
sound 

Having ever seene in the pre- 
nominat crimes 

The youth you breath of guiltie, 
be assur'd 

He closes with you in this con- 
sequence, 

Good sir. (or so,) or friend, or 
gentleman, 

According to the phrase, or the 
addition 

Of man and country. 

Rey. Very good my Lord. 
Pol. And then sir, doos a 
this, a doos, what was I 
about to say? 

By the masse I was about to say 
something, 

Where did I leave? 

Rey. At closes in the conse- 
quence. 1 



Even the dialogue, which with broad characterization 
states necessary facts clearly, is by no means so effective as 
dialogue so absorbing by its characterization that we assim- 
ilate the facts unconsciously. Contrast the opening of The 
Good Natur'd Man with that of Hindle Wakes. The first is 
so busy in characterizing an absent but important figure 
that it presents the two speakers only in the broadest way. 
That is, exposition exists here as its only excuse for being. 
In Hindle Wakes, the rapid development of an interesting 
situation through two characters who as individuals become 
more distinct and interesting with every line, probably 
conceals from most auditors or readers the fact that seven 
important bits of information are given before Fanny enters. 

1 The Devonshire Hamlets, pp. 20-27. 



DIALOGUE 323 

ACT I 

SCENE — An apartment in Young IIoneywood > 8 house 

Enter Sir William Honeywood* Jarvis 

r William. Good Jarvis, make no apologies for this honest 
bluntness. Fidelity like yours is the best excuse for every freedom. 

Jarvis. I can't help being blunt, and being very angry, too, when 
ir you talk of disinheriting so good, so worthy a young gentle- 
man as your nephew, my master. All the world loves him. 

Sir Will. Say, rather, that he loves all the world ; that is his fault. 

Jarv. I 'm sure there is no part of it more dear to him than you 
are, tho' he has not seen you since he was a child. 

Sir Will. What signifies his affection to me, or how can I be 
proud of a place in a heart where every sharper and coxcomb find 
an easy entrance? 

Jarv. I grant you that he's rather too good natur'd; that he's 
too much every man's man; that he laughs this minute with one, 
and cries the next with another; but whose instructions may he 
thank for all this? 

Sir Will. Not mine, sure? My letters to him during my employ- 
ment in Italy taught him only that philosophy which might pre- 
vent, not defend his errors. 

Jarv. Faith, begging your honour's pardon, I 'm sorry they taught 
him any philosophy at all; it has only served to spoil him. This 
same philosophy is a good horse in the stable, but an arrant jade 
on a journey. For my own part, whenever I hear him mention the 
name on't, I'm always sure he's going to play the fool. 

Sir Will. Don't let us ascribe his faults to his philosophy, I en- 
treat you. No, Jarvis, his good nature rises rather from his fears of 
offending the importunate, than his desire of making the deserving 
happy. 

Jarv. What it arises from, I don't know. But to be sure, every- 
body has it that asks it. 

- Will. Ay, or that does not ask it. I have been now for some 
time a concealed spectator of his follies, and find them as boundless 
as his dissipation. 

Jarv. And yet, faith, he has some fine name or other for them 
all. He calls his extravagance generosity; and his trusting every- 
body, universal benevolence. It was but last week he went security 
for a fellow whose face he scarce knew, and that he call'd an act 
of exalted mu-mu-munificence; ay, that was the name he gave it. 



324 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 






Sir Will. And upon that I proceed, as my last effort, tho' with 
very little hopes to reclaim him. That very fellow has just ab- 
sconded, and I have taken up the security. Now, my intention is 
to involve him in fictitious distress, before he has plunged himself 
into real calamity. To arrest him for that very debt, to clap an 
officer upon him, and then let him see which of his friends will come 
to his relief. 1 

ACT I. SCENE 1 

The scene is triangular, representing a corner of the living-room 
of No. 137, Burnley Road, Kindle, a house rented for about 7s. 6d. 
a week. In the left-hand wall, low down, there is a door leading to the 
scullery. In the same wall, but further away from the spectator, is 
a window looking on to the backyard. A dresser stands in front of 
the window. About half-way up the right-hand wall is the door lead- 
ing to the hall or passage. Nearer, against the same wall, a high 
cupboard for china and crockery. The fire-place is not visible, being 
in one of the walls not represented. However, down in the L. corner of 
the stage is an arm-chair, which stands by the hearth. In the middle 
of the room is a square table, with chairs on each side. The room is 
cheerful and comfortable. It is nine o'clock on a warm August evening. 
Through the window can be seen the darkening sky, as the blind is not 
drawn. Against the sky an outline of roof tops and mill chimneys. 
The only light is the dim twilight from the open window. Thunder is 
in the air. When the curtain rises, Christopher Hawthorn, a decent, 
white-bearded man of nearly fifty, is sitting in the arm-chair, smoking 
a pipe. Mrs. Hawthorn, a keen, sharp-faced woman of fifty-five, is 
standing, gazing out of the window. There is a flash of ligUning and 
a rumble of thunder far away. 

Mrs. Hawthorn. It's passing over. There'll be no rain. 

Christopher. Ay! We could do with some rain. 

(There is a flash of lightning.) 

Chris. Pull down the blind and light the gas. 

Mrs. H. What for? 

Chris. It's more cozy-like with the gas. 

Mrs. H. You're not afraid of the lightning? 

Chris. I want to look at that railway guide. 

Mrs. H. W T hat's the good. We've looked at it twice already. 
There's no train from Blackpool till half-past ten, and it's only just 
on nine now. 

1 Act i, Scene 1. Belles-Lettres Series. Austin Dobson, ed. D. C. Heath & Co. 



DIALOGUE 325 

ris. Happen we've made a mistak 
f Mrs. II. Happen we've not. Besides, what's the good of a rail- 

Ymi know trains run as they like on Bank Holiday. 
Chris. Ay! Perhaps you're right. You don't think she'll come 
round by Manchester! 

Mrs. II. What would she be doing coming round by Manchester? 
is. You can get that road from Blackpool. 
//. Yes. If she's coming from Blackpool. 
Chris. Have you thought she may not come at all? 
Mrs. II. (Grimly.) What do you take me for? 
Chris. You never hinted. 
Mrs. II. No use putting them sort of ideas into your head. 

(Another flash and a peal of thunder.) 
Chris. Well, well, those are lucky who haven't to travel at all 
on Bank Holiday. 

Mrs. II. I nless they've got a motor car, like Nat Jeffcote's lad. 
Chris. Nay, he's not got one. 

Mrs. II. What? Why I saw him with my own eyes setting out 
in it last Saturday week after the mill shut. 

Chris. Ay! He's gone off these Wakes with his pal George Rams- 
bottom. A couple of thick beggars, those two! 

Mrs. II. Then what do you mean telling me he's not got a 
motor car? 

Chris. I said he hadn't got one of his own. It's his father's. You 
don't catch Nat Jeff cote parting with owt before his time. That's 
how he holds his lad in check, as you might say. 
Mrs. II. Alan Jeffcote's seldom short of cash. He spends plenty. 
Chris. Ay! Nat gives him what he asks for, and doesn't want 
to know how he spends it either. But he's got to ask for it first. 
Nat can stop supplies any time if he's a mind. 
Mrs. II. That's likely, isn't it? 

Chris. Queerer things have happened. You don't know Nat 
like I do. He's a bad one to get across with. 

(Another flash and gentle peal. Mrs. H. gets up.) 
Mrs. II. I'll light the gas. 

(She pulls down the blind and lights the gas.) 
Chris. When I met Nat this morning he told me that Alan had 
aphed from Llandudno on Saturday asking for twenty 
pounds. 

//. From Llandudno? 
Chris. Ay! Reckon he's been stopping there. Run short of brass. 



326 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

Mrs. H. And did he send it? 

Chris. Of course he sent it. Nat doesn't stint the lad. [He 
laughs quietly.) Eh, but he can get through it, though! 

Mrs. H. Look here. What are you going to say to Fanny when 
she comes? 

Chris. Ask her where she's been? 

Mrs. H. Ask her where she's been. Of course we'll do that. But 
suppose she won't tell us? 

Chris. She's always been a good girl. 

Mrs. H. She's always gone her own road. Suppose she tells us 
to mind our own business? 

Chris. I reckon it is my business to know what she's been up to. 

Mrs. H. Don't you forget it. And don't let her forget it either. 
If you do, I promise you I won't. 

Chris. All right. Where's that post-card? 

Mrs. H. Little good taking heed of that. 

(Christopher rises and gets a picture post-card from the 
dresser.) 

Chris. (Reading.) She'll be home before late on Monday. 
Lovely weather. (Looking at the picture.) North Pier, Blackpool. 
Very like, too. 

Mrs. H. (Suddenly.) Let's have a look. W T hen was it posted? 

Chris. It's dated Sunday. 

Mrs. H. That's nowt to go by. Any one can put the wrong date. 
What's the postmark? (She scrutinizes it.) "August 5th, summat 
p.m." I can't make out the time. 

Chris. August 5th. That was yesterday all right. There'd only 
be one post on Sunday. 

Mrs. H. Then she was in Blackpool till yesterday, that's certain. 

Chris. Ay! 

Mrs. H. Well, it's a mystery. 

Chris. (Shaking his head.) Or summat worse. 

Mrs. H. Eh? You don't think that, eh? 

Chris. I don't know what to think. 

Mrs. H. Nor me neither. 

(They sit silent for a time. There is a rumble of thunder, 
far away. After it has died away, a knock is heard at the 
front door. They turn and look at each other. Mrs. Haw- 
thorn rises and goes out in silence. In a few moments, 
Fanny Hawthorn comes in, followed by Mrs. Hawthorn.) 1 

1 HindU Waket, Stanley Houghton. J. W. Luce & Co., Boston; Sidgwick & Jackson, Ltd., 
London. 



DIALOGUE 



327 



"What usually keeps a writer from passing to well char- 
acterized dialogue from dialogue merely clear as to essen- 
tial facts is that he is so bound to his facts that he sees rather 
than feels the scene. The chief trouble with the dialogue of 
the John Brown play was an attempt to keep so close to 
historical accounts of the particular incident that sympa- 
thetic imagination was benumbed. One constantly meets 
this fault in the earlier Miracle Plays before writers had 
come to understand that audiences care more for the human 
being in the situation than for the situation itself, and that 
only by representing a situation not for itself but as felt by 
the people involved can it be made fully interesting. At 
the left is a speech of Mary in The Crucifixion of the York 
Cycle; at the right is her speech in the Hegge or so-called 
Coventry Plays. 



Mary. Alas! for my sweet 

son, I say, 
That dolefully to deed thus is 

dight, 
Alas! for full lovely thou lay 
In my womb, this worthely 

wight 
Alas! that I should see this sight 
Of my son so seemly to see, 
Alas! that this blossom so bright 
Untruly is tugged to this tree, 

Alas! 
My lord, my life, 
With full great grief, 
Hanges as a thief, 
Alas! he did never trespass. 1 



Mary. O my son, my son! my 

darling dear! 
What have I defended [off ended] 

thee? 
Thou hast spoke to all of those 

that be here, 
And not a word thou speakest 

to me. 
To the Jews thou art full kind, 
Thou hast forgiven all here mis- 
deed; 
And the thief thou hast in mind, 
For once asking mercy heaven 

is his meed. 
Ah! my sovereign lord, why wilt 

thou not speak 
To me that am thy mother in 

pain for thy wrong? 
Ah, heart, heart why wilt thou 

not break? 
That I were out of this sorrow 

so strong! 2 

1 York Plays, p. 363. L. T. Smith, ed. Clarendon Press, Oxford. 
* Ludiu Coventria, p. Sit. J. O. Ilalliwell, ed. Shakespeare Society. 



328 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

The writer of the Hegge speech had discovered long before 
Ralph Waldo Emerson that the secret of good dialogue is 
"truth carried alive into the heart by passion." The second 
requisite, then, of good dialogue is that it must be kindled 
by feeling, made alive by the emotion of the speaker. For 
the would-be dramatist the secret is so to know his charac- 
ters that facts are not mere facts, but conditions moving him 
because they move the characters he perfectly understands. 
As he interprets between character and audience, he must 
be like Planchette or the clairvoyant, the creature of an- 
other's will, whose ideas and emotions rather than his own 
he tries with all the power that is in him to convey. In 
brief, then, though it is absolutely necessary that dialogue 
give the facts as to what happens, who the people are, their 
relations to one another, etc., it is better dialogue if, while 
doing all this, it seems to be busied only with characteriza- 
tion. 

Unassigned dialogue usually makes a reader or hearer 
promptly recognize his preference for characterized rather 
than uncharacterized speech. When a group, as in many 
stage mobs, speaks in chorus, or at best in sections, the 
result is unreality for many hearers and absurdity for the 
more critical. Every hearer knows that people do not really, 
when part of a mob, say absolutely the same thing, and 
rarely speak in perfect unison. Common sense cries out for 
individualization among the possible speakers. When we 
read the following extract from Andreiev's Life of Man, we 
may agree with what is apparently the author's idea, that 
it makes no difference which one of the speakers delivers a 
particular line or sentence; but the moment the scene is 
staged everything changes. 

A profound darkness within which nothing moves. Then there can 
be dimly perceived the outlines of a large, high room and the grey sil- 
houettes of Old Women in strange garments who resemble a troop of 



DIALOGUE 329 

■ft hiding mice. In low voices and with laughter to and fro the Old 

''omen converse. 



When they sent him to the drug store for some medicine he rode 
up and down past the store for two hours and could not remember 
1 1 he wanted. So he came back. 

(Subdued laughter. The crying again becomes louder and 
then dies away. Silence.) 
What has happened to her? Perhaps she is already dead. 

. in that case we should hear weeping. The doctor would run 
out and begin to talk nonsense, and they would bring out her hus- 
band unconscious, and we should have our hands full. No, she 
>t dead. 
Then why are we sitting here? 
Ask Him. How should we know? 
He won't tell. 

He won't tell. He tells nothing. 

He drives us here and there. He rouses us from our beds and 
makes us watch, and then it turns out that there was no need of 
our coming. 

We came of our own accord. Didn't we come of our own accord? 
You must be fair to Him. There, she is crying again. Aren't you 
satisfied ? 
Are you t 

I am saying nothing. I am saying nothing and waiting. 
How kind-hearted you are! 

(Laughter. The cries become louder.) 1 

Of course every rule has its exception, and it may be urged 
that the final lines of David Pinski's The Treasure need no 
assigning to special speakers. This, if true, results from the 
fact that Mr. Pinski, as the last touch in his study of the 
universal perversion of man through lust for money, wishes 
to represent even all the dead as sharing in this greed. Even 
here, however, Mr. Pinski is careful, by his headings "Many" 
and "The Pious Rabbi, "'to distinguish among speeches to 
be given by one person, the chorus, and a figure he wishes 
specially to individualize, the Rabbi. 

» Play$, pp. 71-72. Copyright, 1915, by Cbas. Scribner's Sons, New York. 



330 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

The Dead 

(In shrcnids and praying shawls appear singly and in groups amid 
the graves. They whisper and breathe their words.) Swiftly into the 
synagogue! . . . Hasten! . . . The hour of midnight is long past. . . . 
Hasten. . . . 

(They hasten to the gate. One sees only their silhouettes in 
the dim light of the veiled moon.) 

I thought we would not come out today at all. 

The dead fear the breath of the living. 

We fear them more than they do us. There is no peace betwixt 
life and death. . . . 

No peace ... no peace. . . . 

Indeed life vexed me grievously today. 

Vexed is not the word. I lived in their life so really that I shud- 
dered and feared. 

Shuddered with fear or with longing? Did you feel a yearning 
for your money? 

{Ghostly laughter shakes the rows of the dead.) 

The distinguished and the wealthy must surely have had a bad 
day. 

It fairly smelled of money and they had to lie with the worms. 

It almost threw them out of their graves. 

Many 

Money . . . money . . . money. . . . (Ghostly laughter.) 

But you poor devils hadn't a much better time either. It 
smelled of money and you couldn't even beg. (Laughter.) 

It is high time for all of you to be forgetting life. . . . Come quickly 
into the synagogue. . . . (Many of the dead vanish.) 

It gave me really an exalted feeling to see how little fear of us 
they felt. 

Don't flatter yourself. We would have been no better. We were 
no better either. 

Many 

(At the same time.) Money . . . Money . . . Money. . . . 

Others 

And that is life . . . that is life . . . that is life. . . . 
It exalted me in my grave too. So many women walked about 
here today. Young ones and pretty ones, I wager. . . . (Laughter.) 






DIALOGUE 331 

Who speaks thus? Who opens his mouth to speak such ugly 

Is? 
It's the petty field surgeon who lies buried by the wall. 

The Pious Rabbi 

(In passing. His praying shawl hangs but loosely over his left 

shoulder.) They have dug up my whole grave. . . . They have dug 

away my right arm. Woe, how shall I now put on my praying 

!? How shall I appear before God? (To a group.) Will not 

some one help me to put on my praying shawl? 

(They surround and kelp him. They show signs of deep 
feeling at the sight of the missing arm. Murmurs of 
astonishment and compassion.) 







Many 


Woe.. 


. woe . . . woe. 


Others 


Money . 


. . money . . . 


money. . . 



The Rabbi 
Now will I go and appear before God. . . . Now I will ask him. . . . 

(He vanishes through the gate.) 

Many 
He will get no answer ... he will get no answer. 

One of the Dead 

(With feeling.) They who are in life still stand at the same 
point. Generation dies after generation and all remains as it has 
been. As it was aforetime, so it was in my time and so it is today. 

Many 
Money . . . money . . . money. . . . 

And yet it must lead to something. Surely there must be a goal. 
Only God knows that. . . . 
And man must learn what it is. 
That will be his greatest victory. 
Man's greatest victory. 

Several 
Man's. . . . 



332 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 



Others 
The living one's. . . . And we? 

(A ghostly breathing of laughter and sighing.) 

The First 
Man's greatest victory . . . 

Curtain * 

Staging this, several facts will confront us. We certainly 
shall not let different actors of the group speak different 
lines on successive nights. That is, each supernumerary 
will be given one speech or more. If certain speeches seem 
to belong together, they will be given to one actor, and 
characterization will emerge as he speaks his lines. Unques- 
tionably, too, if speeches which seem in themselves unchar- 
acterizing are given to marked physical types, such as stout, 
very thin, very tall, or very short people, persons of mark- 
edly quick or slow physical movement, some of the speeches 
may seem unfitting. Rarely, then, is there any value in the 
unassigned speech. It may pass in the reading, as has been 
admitted, but the public prefers the assigned speech, and 
still more the speech so characterized that it must be as- 
signed. Compare this passage from Julius Ccesar with its 
assignments to the First, the Second, the Third, and the 
Fourth Plebeian with the passage from Andreiev's play. 
Can there be any question that Shakespeare's assigned 
speeches are somehow clearer, more dramatic? 

SCENE m. A Street 

Enter Cinna the poet, and after him the Plebeians 

Cinna. I dreamt tonight that I did feast with Caesar, 
And things unluckily charge my fantasy. 
I have no will to wander forth of doors, 
Yet something leads me forth. 

» B. W. Huebsch, New York. 






DIALOGUE 333 

/. Plebeian. What ia your name? 

2. Plebeian* Whither are you going? 

3. i Where do you dwell? 

Plebeian. Are you a married man or a bachelor? 

2. Plebeian, Answer every man directly. 

1. Plebeian, Ay, and briefly. 

lebeian. Ay, and wisely. 

3. Plebeian. Ay, and truly, you were best. 

Cinna. What is my name? Whither am I going? Where do I 
dwell? Am I a married man or a bachelor? Then, to answer every 
man directly and briefly, wisely and truly: wisely I say, I am a 
• lor. 

2. Plebeian. That's as much as to say, they are fools that marry. 
You'll bear me a bang for that, I fear. Proceed; directly. 

( inna. Directly, I am going to Caesar's funeral. 

1. Plebeian. As a friend or an enemy? 
■ma. As a friend. 

2. Plebeian. That matter is answered directly. 
\. Plebeian. For your dwelling, — briefly. 
Cinna. Briefly, I dwell by the Capitol. 

3. Plebeian. Your name, sir, truly. 
Cinna. Truly, my name is Cinna. 

1. Plebeian. Tear him to pieces; he's a conspirator. 
Cinna. I am Cinna the poet, I am Cinna the poet. 

4. Plebeian. Tear him for his bad verses, tear him for his bad 

Cinna. I am not Cinna the conspirator. 

4. Plebeian. It is no matter, his name's Cinna. Pluck but his 
name out of his heart and turn him going. 

3. Plebeian. Tear him, tear him! Come, brands, ho! fire- 
brands! To Brutus', toCassius'; burn all! Some to Decius' house, 
and some to Casca's; some to Lingarius'. Away, go! {Exeunt.) 1 

It may almost be stated as a general principle that assign- 
ing a speech is the first step in focusing the attention of an 
audience on that speech. The value of such focusing has 
been discussed earlier under "Characterization." In excep- 
tional cases, as the citation from The Treasure shows, there 
may be some justification for unassigned speeches, but in 

1 Julius Cottar, Act hi, Scene 3. 



334 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, when any lines of the 
play seem not to need assigning to any particular person, 
they lack the characterization which belongs to them. 

The thesis play or the problem play, which have been so 
current in the last few years, have brought into special prom- 
inence a common fault in so-called dramatic dialogue. The 
speeches narrate, describe, expound or argue, and well, but 
not in the character of the supposed speaker. Rather the 
author himself is speaking. Such dialogue, whether it be as 
clever as some in Mr. Shaw's plays, as beautiful as certain 
passages by George Chapman, or as commonplace as in 
many modern instances, should be rewritten till the author 
can state the desired idea or facts as the imagined speaker 
would have stated them. This was the fault with the extract 
from the John Brown play, and whether it has its source in 
an intense desire of the author to present his own ideas, or 
to phrase his sense of beauty, in lack of characterizing power 
or in mere carelessness, it is reprehensible. In the following 
instance, the writer is so absorbed in his own ideas that he 
forgets characterization. 

Senator Morse. . . . What great motive — ? 

Mary. One more imperious than empires or coalitions — (Mary 
turns to Mrs. Morse) — one that mothers know — (Mary turns to 
Senator Morse) — and fathers, too. It is the commonest thing in 
the world, and the one most completely overlooked. Woman's 
love and faith and charity are the motives of that great, imperious 
impulse by which nature is trying to rule this world and perpetuate 
the human soul. Individual self-control and the governance of the 
world are themselves in embryo. . . . Creation is from God and it 
is divine. It is the thing and the only thing that kills wantonness 
and makes love pure. The higher modesty is the peculiar inlerit- 
ance of our race. It is our duty to understand it, respect it, make 
it sacred, and have it raised out of the darkness of ignorance and 
mystery in its true dignity as patriotic impulse and made the true 
basis of society, its government, and its provision for the general 
welfare. 



DIALOGUE 335 

! this sound like an individual woman or like the 
author using one of his characters for the sounding phrases 
of his own thinking? 

In the next illustration, from George Barnwell, the color- 
ness comes from the lack of quickening sympathy with 
character which marks most of Lillo's work. 

Thorowgood. Thou know'st I have no heir, no child but thee; 
the fruits of many years successful industry must all be thine. 
. it would give me pleasure great as my love, to see on whom 
y ( »u would bestow it. I am daily solicited by men of the greatest 
rank and merit for leave to address you; but I have hitherto 
declin'd it, in hopes that by observation I shou'd learn which way 
your inclination tends; for as I know love to be essential to happi- 
ness in the marriage state, I had rather my approbation should 
confirm your choice than direct it. 

Maria. What can I say? How shall I answer, as I ought, this 
tenderness, so uncommon even in the best of parents? But you 
are without example; yet had you been less indulgent, I had been 
most wretched. That I look on the croud of courtiers that visit 
here with equal esteem, but equal indifference, you have observed, 
and I must needs confess; yet had you asserted your authority, and 
insisted on a parent's right to be obey'd, I had submitted and to 
my duty sacrificed my peace. 

Tlior. From your perfect obedience in every other instance, 
I fear'd as much; and therefore wou'd leave you without a byass 
in an affair wherein your happiness is so immediately con- 
cern'd. 

Ma. Whether from a want of that just ambition that wou'd 
become your daughter, or from some other cause, I know not; 
but I find high birth and titles don't recommend the man who 
owns them to my affections. 

Thor. I wou'd not that they shou'd, unless his merit recommends 
him more. A noble birth and fortune, tho' they make not a bad 
man good, yet they are a real advantage to a worthy one, and place 
his virtues in the fairest light. 

Ma. I cannot answer for my inclinations, but they shall ever 
be submitted to your wisdom and authority; and, as you will not 
compel me to marry where I cannot love, so love shall never make 



336 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

me act contrary to my duty. Sir, I have your permission to retire? 
Thor. I'll see you to your chamber. {Exeunt.) 1 

Too often even somewhat skilled dramatists are led astray 
by the belief that to write in a style approved at the moment, 
or which they themselves hold beautiful, is better than to 
let the characters speak their own language. Examining the 
early plays of John Lyly — Alexander and Campaspe, Sapho 
and Phao, Endymion 2 (1579-1590) — we find in the more 
serious portions both action and characterization subordi- 
nated to standards of expression supposed at the time to be 
best. Contrasting the lovers' dialogue of Love's Labor's Lost 
with the scenes of Orsino and Viola in Twelfth Night, we see 
perfect illustration of the greater effectiveness of dialogue 
growing out of the characters as compared with dialogue 
which puts style first. The Heroic Drama of the second half 
of the seventeenth century rested upon theory rather than 
reality. Here is the way in which Almahide and Almanzor 
state strong feeling. 

Almahide. Then, since you needs will all my weakness know, 
I love you; and so well, that you must go. 
I am so much oblig'd, and have withall 
A heart so boundless and so prodigal 
I dare not trust myself, or you, to stay, 
But, like frank gamesters, must foreswear the play. 

Almanzor. Fate, thou art kind to strike so hard a blow; 
I am quite stunn'd, and past all feeling now. 
Yet — can you tell me you have pow'r and will 
To save my life, and at that instant, kill! 3 

All that these two worthy people are trying to say is 

Almahide. I love you; and so well that I dare not trust myself 
or you to stay. 

Almanzor. Can you tell me you have power and will to save 
my life and at that instant kill! 

1 The London Merchant, or The History of George Barnwell, Act i, Scene 1. George Lillo. 
Sir A. W. Ward, ed. Belles-Lettres Series. D. C. Heath & Co., Boston and New York. 
* Works, R. W. Bond, ed. Clarendon Press, Oxford. 
» Selected Dramas of John Dryden. Conquest of Granada. G. B. Noyes, ed. 



DIALOGUE 337 

DrydeD makes Almahide describe her own emotional con- 
dition and, as is proper at'any critical moment in Heroic 
ma, drop into simile. Almanzor, too, confidently diag- 
ts his own condition and apostrophizes fate. All this was 
quite correct in its own day, not for real life, but for the 
»le of the myth land conjured up by the dramatic theo- 
of the I itterati. Did people under such circumstances 
■peak in this way? Surely not. 
TI lis scene from George Barnwell, 1731, illustrates the 
e substitution of an author's idea of what is effective 
use "literary" for a phrasing that springs from the 
real emotion of perfectly individualized figures. 

SCENE 7. Uncle. George Barnwell at a distance 

Uncle. O Death, thou strange mysterious power, — seen every 
day, yet never understood but by the incommunicative dead — 
what art thou? The extensive mind of man, that with a thought 
circles the earth's vast globe, sinks to the centre, or ascends 
above the stars; that worlds exotick finds, or thinks it finds — thy 
thick clouds attempts to pass in vain, lost and bewilder'd in the 
horrid gloom; defeated, she returns more doubtful than before; of 
nothing certain but of labour lost. 

(During this speech, Barnwell sometimes presents the pis- 
tol and draws it back again; at last he drops it, at which 
his uncle starts and draws his sword.) 
Barnwell. Oh, 'tis impossible! 
Uncle. A man so near me, arm'd and masqu'd! 
Barn. Nay, then there's no retreat. 

(Plucks a poniard from his bosom, and stabs him.) 
Uncle. Oh! I am slain! All-gracious heaven regard the prayer 
of thy dying servant! Bless, with thy choicest blessings, my dear- 
est nephew; forgive my murderer, and take my fleeting soul to end- 
less mercy! 

(Barnwell throws off his mask, runs to him, and, kneeling 

by him, raises and chafes him.) 

Barn. Expiring saint! Oil, murder'd, martyr'd uncle! Lift up 

y.nir dying eyes, and view your nephew in your murderer! O, do 

not look so tenderly upon me! Let indignation lighten from your 



338 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

eyes, and blast me e're you die! — By Heaven, he weeps in pity 
of my woes. Tears, — tears for blood ! The murder'd, in the agonies 
of death, weeps for his murderer. — Oh, speak your pious purpose, 
pronounce my pardon then — and take me with you! — He wou'd, 
but cannot. O why with such fond affection do you press my mur- 
dering hand! — What! will you kiss me! (Kisses him. Uncle groans 
and dies.) He's gone forever — and oh! I follow. {Swoons away by 
his uncle's body.) Do I still live to press the suffering bosom of the 
earth? Do I still breathe and taint with my infectious breath the 
wholesome air! Let Heaven from its high throne, in justice or in 
mercy, now look down on that dear murder'd saint, and me the 
murderer. And, if his vengeance spares, let pity strike and end my 
wretched being! — Murder the worst of crimes, and parricide the 
worst of murders, and this the worst of parricides ! Cain, who stands 
on record from the birth of time, and must to its last final period, 
as accurs'd, slew a brother, favour'd above him. Detested Nero 
by another's hand dispatched a mother that he fear'd and hated. 
But I, with my own hand, have murder'd a brother, mother, father, 
and a friend, most loving and belov'd. This execrable act of mine's 
without a parallel. O may it ever stand alone — the last of mur- 
ders, as it is the worst! 

The rich man thus, in torment and despair, 
Prefer'd his vain, but charitable prayer. 
The fool, his own soul lost, wou'd fain be wise 
For others good; but Heaven his suit denies. 
By laws and means well known we stand or fall, 
And one eternal rule remains for all. 
The End of the Third Ad. 1 

Have you noticed that people under stress of strong emo- 
tion stop to depict their emotional condition, to analyze it, 
or neatly to apostrophize fate or Providence? The more 
real the emotion the more compact and connotative, usu- 
ally, is its expression. People under high emotional strain 
who can tell you just what they ought to feel, or who de- 
scribe elaborately what they are feeling are usually "indeed 
exceeding calm." Dryden's Lyndaraxa builded better than 
she knew when she said : 

1 Belles-Lettres Series. Sir A. W. Ward, ed. D. C. Heath & Co., Boston and New York. 






DIALOGUE 339 

By my own experience I can tall 
Those who love truly do not argue well. 

Bulwer Ly t ton was thinking of the weakness of self-descrip- 
ti\r woo when he wrote Macready, while composing Riche- 
lieu, "In Act 4 — in my last alteration, when Richelieu, 
pitying Julie, says, 'I could weep to see her thus — But* — 
the effect would I think be better if he felt the tears with 
indignation at his own weakness — thus: 

'Are these tears? 
O, shame, shame, Dotage' — n 

Emotion, if given free way, finds the right words by which 
to express itself. When a character stands outside itself, 
describing what it feels, the speaker is really the author in 
disguise, describing w r hat he is incompetent, from lack of 
.sympathetic power, to phrase with simple, moving accuracy. 
M. de Curel has described perfectly the right relation of 
author to character and dialogue. 

During the first days of work I have a very distinct feeling of 
creation. Later I move on instinctively and that is much better. 
When the sentiments of my characters are in question I am abso- 
lutely in their skins, for my own part indifferent as to their griefs 
or joys. I can be moved only later in re-reading, and then this emo- 
tion seems to arise from the fact that I have to do with characters 
absolutely strange to me. I experience sometimes, and then per- 
sonally, a feeling of irony, of flippancy, in regard to my characters 
who tangle themselves up and get themselves into difficulties. 
That transpires sometimes in the language of some other character 
who, at the moment, ceases to speak correctly because he speaks 
as I should. As a result, corrections later. At the end of a year, 
my play, when I re-read it, seems something completely apart 
from me, written by another. 1 

Allowing a character to express itself exactly raises inev- 
itably the question of dialect. On the one hand it must be 

i L'AnnSe Ptychologique, 18M, p. 120. 



34o DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

admitted that nothing more quickly characterizes a figure, 
as far as type is concerned, than to let him speak like a 
Yankee, a Scotchman, a Negro, etc. If the character utters 
phrases which an audience recognizes instantly as charac- 
teristic of his supposed type, there is special satisfaction to 
the audience in such recognition. On the other hand, very 
few audiences know any dialect thoroughly enough to per- 
mit a writer to use it with absolute accuracy. The moment 
dialect begins to show the need of a glossary, it is defeating 
its own ends. As a result a compromise has arisen, dating 
from the very early days of the drama — stage dialects. A 
character made up to represent Scotchman, Welshman, 
Frenchman, Negro, or Indian, speaks in a way that has 
become time-honored on the stage as representing this or 
that figure among these types. Till recently most dialect 
on the stage has been at best a mere popular approximation 
to real usage. Until within a few years the peasant dialogue 
of Gammer GurtorCs Needle, the famous sixteenth-century 
Interlude, was supposed to represent dialect of its time in 
the neighborhood of Cambridge, England. Recently philolo- 
gists have shown that the speech of these peasants is unlike 
any dialect of the period of the play, and was obviously a 
stage convention of the time. Study the Welshmen and 
other dialect parts in Shakespeare, and you will reach ap- 
proximately the same conclusion. With our developing 
sense of historical truth and of realism, we have, in recent 
years, been trying to make our characters speak exactly as 
they would in real life. The plays of the Abbey Theatre are 
in large part a revolt from the Irish dialogue which the plays 
of Dion Boucicault had practically established as true to 
life. Today we try not only phonetically to represent the 
ways in which words are spoken by the people of a par- 
ticular locality, but by the use of words and phrases heard 
among such people to make the characterization vivid and 



DIALOGUE 341 

convincing. Here, in Mr. Sheldon's play, The Nigger, is care 
iroduce phonetically the speech of negroes: 

Jinny. (Wearily.) I speck yo' right. Hev yo* got suthin' fo' 

Be t*night? Seems lak I might take it down wif me t* de cabin. 

Si mms. (Grumbling.) Fo' dat young good-fo'-nuffin hawg- 

gmbbah t' swallow w'en he done come home? Laws me, w'y 

^e Phil 'lows his fried chicken en* co'n-braid t' feed dat 

hies rap-scallion, I jes' cain't see! Clar out o' heah, yo' 

py yallah gal! 

Jinny. (Crushingly.) Yallah gal — ! Sho'! I was livin' heah fo' 

was bawn! Don' fo'get dat, yo' imperent, low-down li'tle niggah 

Simms. (Pacifically.) Hoi' on, Jinny! I ain't said nuffin'. Dat 
I ain't ! Yo' g' long now en' I'll sen' down a gal t' yo' cabin wif a 
.-■t. 
Jinny. (Turning away.) Yo' sho' will — er Marse Phil'd — 
Simms. (As he goes up the steps.) En' keep yo' gran'chillun out 
saloom, Jinny, ef yo' don' want t' see 'em cross de Jo'dan ahead 
o'! Dat Joe! Lawd-a-massy! De white in him ain't done no- 
body no good's fan's dis — 'Scuse me, sah! 

(He stops suddenly and turns aside, bowing, on seeing Noyes 
and Georgie, who have opened the door and come out.) 

Here is equal care to represent the speech of Southerners. 

Noyes. My fathah? Yes, he gave way t' his Comme'cial ambi- 
tion by sellin' powda an' bullets t' the Union — way back in '62. 
That got him into a bunch o' trouble, but it wasn't what started 
tlu — slight fam'ly coolness! 

Georgie. Wasn't it? Why, I always hea'd — 

Noyes. No, it came befo' that. My gran'fathah an' Phil's — 
they were brothahs-in-law, you know — they began it in the fo'ties. 

Georgie. Why? 

s. (Grimly.) I reckon the Morrows are tryin' now t' keep 
it dak. But Lawd! — I don't mind tellin'. It's the old thing 
— both losin' theah heads ovah the same woman. 

rgie. (Innocently.) How romantic! Phil's gran'mothah? 
es. (After a pause.) No — niggah woman. 

Georgie (In a low voice, turning away.) Oh — I didn't — real- 
ize — 



342 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

Noyes. (Clearing his throat.) Phil's gran'fathah — he won out. 
An' that's the kick that sta'ted the Noyes fam'ly a-rollin' t' pe'- 
dition. 

Georgie. (With difficulty.) But mos' people are willin' to fo'get 
— at least they ought to be. 

Noyes. (Dryly.) Some ain't killed 'emselves tryin'. Howevah, 
on lookin' ahead I saw Phil an' I might be in a position t' help each 
othah, so we agreed t' sink it. I — I wish yo' mothah would fol- 
low Phil, Miss Byrd. I ce'tainly do wish that! 

Georgie. She's old-fashioned — oh, hopelessly so! — in things the 
world now considers — trivial. 

Noyes. (Looking at his hands.) Such as — trade? 

Georgie. (Gently.) That's one of them. 1 

Lady Gregory, after writing a rough draft of one of her 
plays, goes among the people of her community and sets 
them talking of the subject she is treating. Noting their 
racy, apt, and highly individualized phrases, she gives them 
to her characters in the play as she re-writes. Such intimate, 
loving study of dialect as Lady Gregory, Mr. Yeats, and 
Synge have shown has given us an accurate representation 
of the Irish peasant, and may ultimately drive from the 
English stage the conventional absurdities of the past. 
Dialect, then, if carefully studied, is highly desirable if two 
or three facts are borne in mind. First of all, it should be 
accurate; but secondly it must be clear or must be made 
clear for any audience. Unquestionably, Mr. Stanley 
Houghton's memorable play Hindle Wakes had a bad title 
away from its birthplace, — Manchester, England. In the 
United States, this title is perfectly meaningless. How 
many in any audience in this country could be expected to 
know that the title means certain "autumn week-end holi- 
days in the town of Hindle." There could be no harm 
in using a different title away from the birthplace of the 
play. Recently, in a manuscript play, appeared a figure 

1 The Nigger, Act i. Edward Sheldon. The Macmillan Co., New York. 



DIALOGUE 343 

speaking a strange mixture of Negro and Irish dialects. He 
seemed to all readers a clumsy attempt by the author at a 
dialect part. Really, the figure was a portrait of a small 
political boss who, from boyhood on, had acquired in the 
ns and purlieus of his district words and phrases of 
i the Negroes and the Irish. A little preliminary expo- 
n at the right place cleared up this difficulty and turned 
what seemed inept characterization into a particularly indi- 
vidual figure of richly characterizing phrase. Obviously, 
then, dialect should, first, be written accurately. Then it 
should be gone over to see what in it may not be clear to 
most auditors. These words or phrases should be made 
clear because they are translated by other people on the 
stage or by the speaker, who himself sees or is told that some 
stage listener does not understand him. Only a little 
enuity is needed to do away with such vaguenesses. To 
substitute for such words and phrases others which, though 
incorrect, would be instantly understood by the audience is 
to botch the dialect and produce what is, after all, not differ- 
ent from the conventional stage dialect of the past. This 
raises a third point in regard to dialect, and one very fre- 
quently disregarded. Over and over again in plays using 
dialect certain speeches are passed over by the author in his 
final revision which neither phonetically nor in the words 
and phrases chosen comport with the context. Instantly 
the mood and the color of the scene are lost unless the actor 
supplies what the author failed to give. That is, dialect, if 
used, should be used steadily and consistently. The desid- 
erata are, then, accuracy, persistent use, and clearness for 
the general public. Thus used, dialect is one of the chief aids 
to characterization. 

If, in writing dialogue, a dramatist must not speak as 
himself but in character, must not be consciously or uncon- 
sciously literary if not in character, how may one surely 



344 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

choose the right words? Perhaps one or two illustrations 
will help here. The citation in the left-hand column from 
the first quarto Hamlet states the facts clearly enough, but 
wholly uncolored by the emotion of the speaker. In the 
right-hand column the passionate sympathy of Shakespeare 
has given him perfect understanding of Hamlet's feeling. 

Hamlet. O fie Horatio, and if Hamlet. O good Horatio, 

thou shouldst die, what a wounded name 

What a scandale wouldst thou Things standing thus unknowne, 

leave behinde? shall I leave behind me? 

What tongue should tell the If thou did'st ever hold me in 

story of our deaths, thy hart, 

If not from thee? O my heart Absent thee from felicity a 

sinckes Horatio, while, 

Mine eyes have lost their sight, And in this harsh world drawe 

my tongue his use: thy breath in paine 

Farewell Horatio, heaven re- To tell my story: What warlike 

ceive my soule. noise is this? 

{Hamlet dies.) {A inarch a Jarre off.) l 

Speaking, not as the historian, not as the observer, but as 
Hamlet himself, Shakespeare by his quickened feeling finds 
a phrasing of which we may say what Swinburne said of 
some of the lines of John Webster : that the character says, 
not what he might have said, not what we are satisfied to 
have him say, but what seems absolutely the only thing he 
could have said. 

Wlien a dramatist works as he should, the emotion of his 
characters gives him the right words for carrying their feel- 
ings to the audience, and every word counts. Writing to 
Macready of Money, Bulwer-Lytton said of his play, "At 
the end of Act in your closing speech, wall you remember 
to say, you 'would* refuse me ten pounds to spend on 
benevolence. Not you refuse me. The would is important." 2 

In the left-hand column the complete sympathy of Hey- 

1 The Devonshire Hamlets, p. 99. 

* Letters of Bulwer-Lytton to Macready, p. 130. B. Matthews, ed. 



DIALOGUE 



345 



wood with his characters makes them speak simply, out of 
the fullness of their emotion. In the ri^ht-hand column, 
Heywood's collaborator, Rowley, lacking complete under- 
ling of his characters, is thinking more of phrase for its 
sake. 



1 SCENE 4. The street 

Rainsjord and Young 
Forrest, meeting 
Young Forrest. Pray let me 

speak with you. 
Rainsjord. With me, sir? 
} :ng For. With you. 
Rains. Say on. 
Young For. Do you not 

know me? 
Rains. Keep off, upon the 
peril of thy life. 
Come not within my sword's 

length, lest this arm 
Fro\ v fatal to thee and bereave 

thy life, 
As it hath done thy brother's. 
Young For. Why now thou 
know'st me truly, by that 
token, 
That thou hast slain my brother. 

Put up, put up! 
So great a quarrel as a brother's 

life 
Must not be made a street- 
brawl; 'tis not fit 
That every prentice should, with 

his shop club, 
Betwixt us play the sticklers. 
Sheathe thy sword. 
Rains. Swear thou wilt act 
HO sudden violence, 
Or this sharp sword shall still 
1><- interposed 



ACT II. SCENE 1. Ilounslow/ 

Enter Rainsjord and Young 

Forrest 
Rainsford. Your resolution 

holds, then? 
Young Forrest. Men that 

are easily mov'd are soon 

remov'd 
From resolution; but when, with 

advice 
And with foresight we purpose, 

our intents 
Are not without considerate 

reasons alter'd. 
Rains. Thou art resolv'd, and 

I prepar'd for thee. 
Yet thus much know, thy state 

is desperate, 
And thou art now in danger's 

throat already 
Ev'n half devour'd. If I sub- 
due thee, know 
Thou art a dead man; for this 

fatal steel, 
That search'd thy brother's en- 
trails is prepar'd 
To do as much to thee. If thou 

survivest, 
And I be slain, th'art dead too, 

my alliance 
And greatness in the world will 

not endure 
My slaughter unavenged. Come, 

I am for thee. 



346 



DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 



'Twixt me and thy own hatred. 
Young For. Sheathe thy 

sword. 
By my religion and that in- 
terest 
I have in gentry I will not be 

guilty 
Of any base revenge. 
Rains. Say on. 
Young For. Let's walk. 
Trust me. Let not thy guilty 

soul 
Be jealous of my fury. This 

my hand 
Is curbed and govern'd by an 

honest heart, 
Not by just anger. I'll not touch 

thee foully 
For all the world. Let's walk. 
Rains. Proceed. 
Young For. Sir, you did kill 

my brother. Had it been 
In fair and even encounter, 

tho' a child, 
His death I had not question'd. 
Rains. Is this all? 
Young For. He's gone. The 

law is past. Your life is 

clear'd; 
For none of all our kindred laid 

against 
You evidence to hang you. 

You're a gentleman; 
And pity 'twere a man of your 

descent 
Should die a felon's death. See, 

sir, thus far 
We have demeaned fairly, like 

ourselves. 
But, think you, though we wink 

at base revenge, 



Young For. I would my 
brother liv'd, that this our 
diff'rence 
Might end in an embrace of 

folded love; 
But 'twas Heaven's will that 

for some guilt of his 
He should be scourged by thee; 

and for the guilt 
In scourging him, thou by my 

vengeance punish'd. 
Come; I am both ways arm'd, 

against thy steel 
If I be pierc'd by it, or 'gainst 

thy greatness 
If mine pierce thee. 
Rains. Have at thee. 

(They fight and pause.) 
Young For. I will not bid thee 
hold; but if thy breath 
Be as much short as mine, look 
to thy weakness. 
Rains. The breath thou 
draw'st but weakly, 
Thou now shalt draw no 
more. 

(They fight. Forrest loseth 
his weapon.) 
Young For. That Heaven 
knows. 
He guard my body that my 
spirit owes! 

{Guards himself, and puts 
by with his hat — slips — 
the other, running, falls 
over him, and Forrest kills 
him.) 
Good. My cousin's fall'n — 

pursue the murderer. 
Foster. But not too near, I 
pray; you see he's armed, 



DIALOGUE 



347 



' h can be so soon 
forgot? 

Our gentry baffled, and our 

nam.- disgraced? 
must not be; I am a gen- 
tleman 
Well ku.»wn; and my demeanor 

hitherto 
Hath promis'd somewhat. 

Should I swallow this, 
The scandal would outlive me. 

Briefly then, 
I '11 fight with you. 
Ha iris. I am loath. 
Young For. Answer directly, 
Whether you dare to meet me 

on even terms; 
Or mark how I'll proceed. 
Rains. Say, I deny it. 
Young For. Then I say 
thou'rt a villain, and I 
challenge thee, 
Where'er I meet thee next, in 

field or town, 
The father's manors, or thy 

tenants' grange, 
Saving the church, there is no 

privilege 
In all this land for thy despised 
life. 
(Fortune by Land and Sea, 
Act I, Scene 4.) 1 



Two sets of extracts from the first and final versions of 
Ibsen's A DolVs House show the way in which perfected 
understanding of a character reveals the apt phrase. 

i Fortune by Land and Sea. T. Hey wood and W. Rowley. W. B. Clarke Co, Boston. 



And in this deep amazement 
may commit 

Some desperate outrage. 

Young For. Had I but known 
the terror of this deed, 

I would have left it done im- 
perfectly, 

Rather than in this guilt of con- 
science 

Labour'd so far. But I forget 
my safety. 

The gentleman is dead. My 
desp'rate life 

Will be o'erswayed by his allies 
and friends, 

And I have now no safety but 
my flight. 

And see where my pursuers 
come. Away! 

Certain destruction hovers o'er 
my stay. (Exit.) 

(Fortune by Txind and Sea, 
Act II, Scene 1.) l 



348 



DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 



(Nora stands motionless. 

Helmer goes to the door 

and opens it.) 

Ellen. (Half-dressed in the 

Hall.) Here is a letter for you, 

ma'am. 

Helmer. Give it to me. 
(Seizes letter and shuts the door.) 
Yes, from him. You shall not 
have it. I shall read it. 
Nora. Read it! 
Helmer. (By the lamp.) I 
have hardly the courage to. We 
may both be lost, both you and 
I! Ah! I must know. (Hastily 
tears the letter open; reads a few 
lines, looks at an enclosure; a 
cry of joy.) Nora! 

(Nora looks inquiringly at 

him.) 

Helmer. Nora! Oh! I must 

read it again. Yes, yes, it is so. 

I am saved! Nora, I am saved! 

Nora. And I? 

Helmer. You too, of course; 
we are both saved, both of us. 
Look here, he sends you back 
your promissory note. He 
writes that he regrets and apolo- 
gises; that a happy turn in his 
life — Oh, what matter what 
he writes. We are saved, Nora! 
No one can harm you. Oh, Nora, 
Nora. 2 

The text of the right-hand column brings out more clearly 
than the original the complete but unconscious selfishness 
of Helmer. Ibsen, understanding that character more fully 

i From Ibsen's Workshop, p. 162. Chas. Scribner's Sobs, New York. 
2 Prose Dramas, vol. i, p. S77. Idem. 



(Nora stands motionless. He 

goes to the door and opens 

it.) 

The Maid. (In the Hall.) 

Here is a letter for you, ma'am. 

Helmer. Give it here. (He 
seizes the letter and shuts the door.) 
Yes, from him. Look here. 

Nora. Read it. 

Helmer. I have hardly the 
courage. I fear the worst. We 
may both be lost, both you and 
I. Ah! I must know. (Hastily 
tears the letter open; reads a 
few lines with a cry of joy.) 
Nora! 

(Nora looks inquiringly at 
him.) 

Helmer. Nora! — Oh, I must 
read it again. Yes, yes, it is so. 
You are saved, Nora, you are 
saved. 

Nora. How, saved? 

Helmer. Look here. He sends 
you back your promissory note. 
He writes that he regrets and 
apologises, that a happy turn 
in his life — Oh, what matter 
what he writes. We are saved, 
Nora! There is nothing to wit- 
ness against you. Oh, Nora, 
Nora. 1 



DIALOGUE 



349 



than in his first draft, makes not only the change from "You 
are saved, Xora" to the self-revelatory "I am saved!" but 
also the change to that infinitely more dramatic "And I?" 
which replaces Nora's "How, saved?" 

En a second set of extracts from the same scene, a firmer 
p of the characters has permitted Ibsen to replace the 
eral and conventional in the last two speeches of the left- 
hand column with the more specific and characterizing lines 
of Helmer and the lines of Nora that are an inspiration. 



■i. ... It never for a mo- 
ment occurred to me that you 
would think of submitting to 
nan's conditions, that you 
would agree to direct your ac- 
tions by the will of another. I 
was convinced that you would 
say to him, " Make it known to 
the whole world"; and that 
then — 

II timer. Well? I should give 
you up to punishment and dis- 
grace. 

/. No; then I firmly be- 
lieved that you would come for- 
ward, take everything upon 
yourself, and say, "I am the 
guihy one" — 

Helmer. Nora! 

Nora. You mean I would 
newr have accepted such a sac- 
rifice? No, of course not. But 
what would my word have been 
in opposition to yours? I so 
firmly believed that you would 
sacrifice yourself for me — 
I don't listen to her," you would 
say — " she is not responsible; 
she is out of her senses" — you 



Nora. . . . When Krogstad's 
letter lay in the box, it never oc- 
curred to me that you would 
think of submitting to that 
man's conditions. I was con- 
vinced that you would say to 
him, " Make it known to all the 
world"; and that then — 



Helmer. Well? When I had 
given my own wife's name up to 
disgrace and shame — ? 

Nora. Then I firmly believed 
that you would come forward, 
take everything upon yourself, 
and say, "I am the guilty one." 

Helmer. Nora! 

Nora. You mean I would 
never have accepted such a sac- 
rifice? No, certainly not. But 
what would my assertions have 
been worth in opposition to 
yours? That was the miracle 
that I hoped for and dreaded. 
And it was to hinder that that 
I wanted to die. 



350 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE, 

would say that it was love of 

you — you would move heaven 

and earth. I thought you would 

get Dr. Rank to witness that I 

was mad, unhinged, distracted. 

I so firmly believed that you 

would ruin yourself to save 

me. That is what I dreaded, and 

therefore I wanted to die. 
Helmer. Oh, Nora, Nora! Helmer. I would gladly work 

for you day and night, Nora — 
bear sorrow and want for your 
sake — but no man sacrifices 
his honour, even for one he loves. 
Nora. And how did it turn Nora. Millions of women 

out? No thanks, no outburst of have done so. 2 

affection, not a shred of a 

thought of saving me. 1 

Perfect phrasing rests, then, on character thoroughly 
understood and complete emotional accord with the char- 
acter. Short of that in dialogue, one stops at the common- 
place and colorless, the personal, or the literary. 

Even, however, when dialogue expounds properly and is 
thoroughly in character, it will fail if not fitted for the stage. 
John Oliver Hobbes stated a truth, if somewhat exagger- 
atedly, in these lines of her preface to The Ambassador: 

Once I found a speech in prose — prose so subtly balanced, 
harmonious, and interesting that it seemed, on paper, a song: 
But no actor or actress, though they spoke with the voice of 
angels, could make it, on the stage, even tolerable. . . . Yet the 
speech is nevertheless fine stuff: it is nevertheless interesting in 
substance: it has imagination: it has charm. What, then, was lack- 
ing? Emotion in the tone and, on the part of the writer, considera- 
tion for the speaking voice. Stage dialogue may have or may not 
have many qualities, but it must be emotional. It rests primarily 
on feeling. Wit, philosophy, moral truths, poetic language — 

1 From Ibsen' 8 Workshop, p. 171. Chas. Scribner's Sons, New York. 
1 Prose Dramas, vol. i, p. 386. Idem. 



DIALOGUE 351 

all these count as nothing unless there is feeling of an obvious, 

ordinary kind. 1 

When reading a play aloud, do we give all the stage direc- 

r, cutting out those which state how certain speeches 

uld l>e read, try to give these as directed? Even when 

reading some story aloud, do we not often find troublesome 

full directions as to just how the speakers delivered their 

lines? If given by us, they provide an awkward standard 

which to judge our reading. If we wish to suppress 

them, they are not, in rapid reading, always seen in time. 

As was pointed out very early in this book, gesture, facial 

»n, movement about the stage, and above all, the 

voice, aid the dramatist as they cannot aid the novelist. 

se aids and the time limits of a play have, as we shall see, 

very great effect on dialogue. Note in the opening of The 

of Rebellions Susan, by Henry Arthur Jones, the effects 

demanded from the aids just named. 

ACT I. SCENE. Drawing-room at Mr. Harabin's; an ele- 
gantly furnished room in May fair. At back, in centre, fireplace, 
with fire burning. To right of fireplace a door leading to Lady 
Susans sitting-room. A door down stage left. 

Enter footman left showing in Lady Darby 

Lady Darby. {A lady of about fifty.) Where is Lady Susan now? 
Footman. Upstairs in her sitting-room, my lady. 

(Indicating the door right.) 
Lady D. Where is Mr. Harabin? 
Footman. Downstairs in the library, my lady. 

Enter Second Footman showing in Inez, a widow of about thirty, 
fascinating, inscrutable 

Lady D. (To First Footman.) Tell Lady Susan I wish to see her 
at once. 

I iten. And will you say that I am here too? 

(Exit First Footman at door right. Exit Second Footman 
at door left.) 

1 Thi Ambassador. T. Fisher Unwin, London. 



352 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

Lady D. (Going affectionately to Inez, shaking hands very sym* 
pathetically.) My dear Mrs. Quesnel, you know? 

Inez. Sue wrote me a short note saying that she had discovered 
that Mr. Harabin had — and that she had made up her mind to 
leave him. 

Lady D. Yes, that's what she wrote me. Now, my dear, you 're 
her oldest friend. You '11 help me to persuade her to — to look over 
it and hush it up. 

Inez. Oh, certainly. It's the advice everybody gives in such 
cases, so I suppose it must be right. What are the particulars? 

Lady D. I don't know. But with a man like Harabin — a gen- 
tleman in every sense of the word — it can't be a very bad case. 

Enter Lady Susan. 1 

If the voice does not deftly stress "now " in Lady Darby's 
first speech, and the "upstairs" and the "downstairs" of 
the footman, this opening will fail of its desired effect. 
Everything in this well-wTitten beginning of an interesting 
play depends on bringing to the delivery of the lines right 
use of the dramatist's greatest aids : gesture, facial expression, 
pantomime, and above all the exquisite intonations of which 
the human voice is capable. Write this scene as a novelist 
would handle it, and see to what different proportions it 
will swell. Note in the final result how much less conno- 
tative, how much more commonplace the dialogue probably 
is. Contrasting two passages — one from a novel, the other 
in a play drawn from it — will perhaps best illustrate that 
the dialogue of the novel and of the play treating the same 
story usually differ greatly. 

And when it became clear that somebody, good or baa, was 
without, Patty, having regard to the lateness of the hour and the 
probability of supernatural visitations, was much disposed to make 
as though the knocking were unheard, and to creep quietly off to 
bed. But Mistress Beatrice prevailed upon her to depart from 
this prudent course; and the two peered from an upper window to 
see who stood before the door. 

1 Samuel French, New York. 



DIALOGUE 3J3 

At first they could see no one; l>nt. presently a little figure 
>ped back from the shadow, looking up to the window al>ove, 
and Beatrice Cope, although she discerned not the face, felt more 
than ever certain that this summons was for her. 

I>nt. a child there without, Patty," she said. "Maybe 'tis 
some poor little creature that has lost its way, and come here for 
help and shelter. Heaven forbid that we should leave it to wander 
about, all the dreary night through!" 

Patty's fears were not much calmed by the sight of this lonely 
child. " 'Twas the Phantom Child," she murmured, "who comes 
wailing piteously to honest folks' doors o' nights; and if they take 
it in and cherish it, it works them grievous woe." 

Mist n ss Beatrice, however, tried to hear as little as she might 
of what Patty was saying; and she went downstairs and undid the 
heavy bar very cautiously. Then she opened the door a little space; 
and Patty Joyce stood by her staunchly, although disapproving of 
what she did. 

And when the door was opened, this persevering applicant 
proved to be only the boy Bill Lampeter, who was known at \Yhite- 
oaks as at Crowe Hall, and a score of country Granges beside. He 
did but crave a drink of milk and a bit to eat, he said. He had been 
a-foot all day, and had had nought to eat; and seeing a light burn- 
ing in the houseplace, he made bold to knock and ask for what he 
needed. 

The boy's breath was short and hurried, and his grimy face was 
pale and damp with toil of hard running. He did not seek to enter, 
but kept glancing over his shoulder into the darkness behind him. 

Beatrice sent Patty for food and drink, standing still herself in the 
doorway; and the maid was no sooner gone than the boy drew 
nearer and spoke. 

"Oh. mistress," he said, hoarsely, "I have been beat to-night — 
but I told 'em nought. The corporal he raddled my bones terrible 
— but I set my teeth, and I told 'tin nought. I bit him when he 
took they shining white things o' yourn, wi' the writing; them as 
I u Id not give to Mr. Cope, the day I warned the porter at Good- 
rot that the red-coats was upon 'em. I had the white things safe, 
mistress, hid in my smock" — (he put his hand to his breast, 
where the rough garment he wore was heavily quilted and closely 
drawn) . — " And I would ha' giv' them to Mr. Cope, the first chance 
I got — I would, honest and true. But the scouting party caught 
me; and they says, 'Thee be allays running from one Grange to 



354 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

another, thee little ne'er-do-weel; thee can tell us what we wants 
to know about Goodrest in the hills ' — And I was telling of 'em 
just what tales corned into my head, for fear of unpleasantness, 
mistress, when the corporal, a great rough chap, seizes hold of 
me, and says, says he, * Tis all a pack o' lies, this here. Search him,' 
he says, 'and see if he carries messages or tokens.' And then I 
fought and bit, for I know'd they'd find your bright things in my 
smock; and I bit his hand nigh upon through, that I did," said 
Bill, with grim satisfaction, and an oath at which poor Beatrice 
shuddered. 

"Oh, hush!" she said. "There is no help in swearing, boy." 
"He swore," Bill replied. "But when he got the tablets, he were 
fine and pleased. And he said, 'This is a stag of ten, my boys; and 
should he snuff the breeze too soon we have means to keep him 
where he is till morning. Hold that little viper fast,' says he,' and 
for your lives don't let him give us the slip.' — So one of the troopers 
took me behind him on his horse, with a rope round my body, drawn 
cruel tight at first. And I panted and groaned, and made as 
though he were killing of me; and after a bit he slacked the rope a 
little, so as I could put my head down and gnaw it through in the 
dark. And at the dip of a valley, where the shadow was deep 
under the trees, I slipped off quiet-like into the long grass. He 
knew the rope was loose in a minute, and he snapped his pistol; 
but the covert was good, and I crope into the heart of a holler tree 
covered o'er wi' ivy. I bided there, till they was tired o' hunting 
round. — But oh, mistress, the poor gentleman at Goodrest is 
undone! — They talked together while the trooper was making 
me fast upon his horse; and I heard a word now and again, for I 
listened with all my might. There were but four of 'em; and they 
said they weren't strong enough to surprise Goodrest, but must 
ride back to quarters for help. And as we went past Grantford 
Farm, the corporal called a halt; and one held his horse while he 
went in and spoke with the farmer. And, mistress, Hugh Stone 
of Grantford is known for a bitter Whig. . . . And presently Hugh 
of Grantford comes out, and his little brother with him; and the 
boy had that as you wrote upon — that as they took from me — 
in his hand. And the corporal says, looking over his shoulder quick 
and short, 'Does he understand?' says he. 'Oh, aye,' says Hugh 
of Grantford, 'he understands fine.' And I could see wee Jock did 
not like the job he were put upon; and I made a face at him from 
ahint the trooper's back, and he liked it less nor ever then." 



DIALOGUE 355 

•"What job, Bill?" 

Bill Lampeter looked in amazement at this beautiful, terrified 

. who did not understand. 
"Don't Ve see?" he said. "Jock o' Grantford were to take your 
writing t<> (uxxlrest, and play upon the gentleman there, to keep 
him biding till the red-coats come. What were it as you wrote down 
that day, mistress?" 

A> in a flash of painful memory Beatrice saw the dainty tablets 
more with words traced upon them in a hand rendered some- 
' unsteady by the slow pace of the sorrel horse — a hand un- 
ikable, however, to the eyes of Charlie Cope. 

I pray you, do not stir far from home. There is risk abroad. 

B. C. 

She understood then; and she turned quickly to Patty Joyce, 
who had come back bringing bread and milk ere Bill's tale was 
half done. Bill, even in the eagerness of his disclosure, had clutched 
the bread and cheese; and now he drained the mug of milk, while 
the good-natured maid stood open-mouthed, her eyes fixed upon 
Mi -tress Beatrice. 

"Patty," the young lady whispered, "I think you are faithful 
and true. ... I must trust you with a perilous secret. This gentle- 
man whom they seek at Goodrest is my only brother; he has papers 
of importance in his keeping, and a warrant is out for his arrest. 
They will lure him to his destruction by means of me, his sister; he 
kn< >\vs my handwriting and will trust to my warning. He will lie 
close at Goodrest, as a hare upon her form; and they will take him 
— oh! they will take him prisoner! — ere morning dawns. I must 
to Goodrest now, in the dark night. — Bey! is there time? is 
there time?" 

Bill Lampeter nodded, munching his bread. 

"They'll not be back afore the dawning, them troopers," he 
said. "They've limed the twig, ye see; the bird is made fast. If 
Mr. Cope do hear the country's up, he'll bide where he be there at 
Goodrest, reckoning 'tis safest to keep still. Between now and the 
first streak as shows over the Black Scaur, mistress, you can do 
as you will." 

"Eh, Mistress Beatrice, you can't never go," said Patty, trem- 
bling. " You couldn't dare to do it. And this here boy," she whis- 
pered, standing close to Mistress Beatrice, "is a very proverb for 



3J6 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

wicked story-telling. 'Tis a naughty little varlet; who knows that 
he has not been set on to bring this tale? " 

"'Tis true enough, though I be a story-teller," said Bill, whose 
ears were sharp. "Yon gentleman at Goodrest has need of thee 
the night, mistress. And now let me lie down on the straw in the 
big barn, for my bones do ache, and I be dizzy wi' running." 

He caught at the doorpost as he spoke; and Patty Joyce's sus- 
picion vanished in pity for the worn-out creature. She kindled a 
flame to light the Ian thorn which hung in the houseplace; and her- 
self crossed the wide courtyard to make Bill a comfortable resting- 
place in the soft hay and clean straw which filled the great barn. 1 

This is the same scene in the play: 

(Louder rapping. Trembling with rage and disappointment, 
Sandiland disappears down the path. Beatrice stands a 
moment , looking as if waking from a nightmare.) 
Patty. (Outside, rapping more.) Miss Beatrice, Miss Beatrice! 
Quick! 

Beatrice. (Crossing dazedly to door. By it, dully.) Who? 
Patty. Open quick. Me and Bill. 
Beat. (Recovering.) Bill! 

(Quickly she unbolts the door. Patty enters, half supporting 
Bill. She looks about as if surprised at not seeing any one 
beside Beatrice. BiWs clothes are torn and he is covered 
with dirt. There is blood on his hands where cords have 
torn the flesh. He looks white and wretched and breathes 
hard as if from recent running. He should play the whole 
scene with nervous excitement that suggests a collapse at 
the end of it.) 
Bill. (Apologetically, as he stumbles toward Beatrice.) I've had a 
bit of a scrap. (Aside to Beatrice.) Get rid o' 'er. 
Beat. You can trust her. What has happened? 
BUI. Scoutin' party got me. Corporal raddled my bones terrible 
when I fought and bit, fearin' they'd find your message hid in my 
smock. They near tore it off, damn 'em. 
Beat. You have the tablets? 
Bill. No. 

Beat. They have them? (With relief.) Then they haven't reached 
James! 

1 Mistress Beatrice Cope. M. E. Le Clerc. D. Appleton & Co., New York. 



DIALOGUE 357 

Bill. The gentleman? Oh, ay. When we come to Grant fori 1 
n — I were trussed up be'ind a trooper — Corporal called 
little Jock o' Grantford — his fayther's a bitter Whig — and 
iin take your message to Goodrest, to keep the gentleman 
i' till the red coats be come. 
To Patty.) Where's Grizel? 
Patty. In the paddock'm. But — 

. Saddle her at once. I must to Goodrest. 

(Patty hesitates.) 
Dill. (Menacingly as he reaches for a candlestick.) She said — 
nee. 

(Unwillingly bid quickly, Patty goes out centre.) 
Bill. (Pointing to Vie door where the full moon shines in clearly.) 
but that ain't 'id yet. 
' (As if struck by a sudden idea.) How did you get free? 
Bill. Gnawed the ropes; slipped off in the long grass. Trooper's 
pistol missed me. Stayed in a holler oak I knows till they was 
tirol 'untin'. 

//. Knowing you are loose, they will start at once. 
/>///. If they ain't fools. But most folks be. Risk somethin' on 
that. (Beatrice is busy with her dress and cloak. He starts to help 
her but has to support himself by table.) Don't go through Whitecross 
Village. There the soldiers be. Take the footpath by Guiting; the 
bridge be shaky but 'twill hold. 

(Enter Patty, centre.) 

Patty. Grizel's ready'm. 

Beat. (Xodding her understanding to Bill — to Patty.) Close up 
here. Look after Bill. Be ready to let me in when the first cock 
crows. My stirrup! (Goes out swiftly, followed protestingly by 
Patty. Bill drags himself to right of door watching, and says after 
a minute.) She's up! 

Patty. (Rushing in as there is the sound of swift hoof beats.) 
She's gone! (She falls sobbing hysterically by the left side of door.) 

Bill. {As he holds himself up at right.) The damned brave lady! 

Curtain. 

First of all, the novelist permits himself an amount of 
detail which the dramatist must forego because of his more 
limited space. Interesting details which do not forward the 



358 



DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 



purpose of the scene or act the wise dramatist denies him- 
self — note in Ibsen's revision of certain lines in A DolVs 
House (p. 350) the cutting, between the first and final ver- 
sions, of what concerns Dr. Rank. It was in part unnecessary 
detail which made the dialogue of the play on John Brown 
(pp. 309-313) so ineffective. In what follows immediately, 
a skilful hand seems in column one to have cut details of 
column two which, though interesting in themselves, delay 
the essential movement of the scene and help to swell the 
whole play to undue proportions. 

Horatio. Mary that can I, Horatio. That can I. 

at least the whisper goes At least the whisper goes so; 
so, our last King, 



Our late King, who as you know 

was by Forten- 
Brasse of Norway, 

Thereto prickt on by a most 
emulous cause, dared to 

The combate, in which our va- 
liant Hamlet, 

For so this side of our knowne 
world esteemed him, 

Did slay this Fortenbrasse, 

Who by a seale compact well 
ratified, by law 

And heraldrie, did forfeit with 
his life all those 

His lands which he stoode 
seazed of by the con- 
queror, 

Against the which a moity com- 
petent, 

Was gaged by our King: 



Who[se image even but now 

appear'd to us,] 
Was as you knowe by Fortin- 

brasse of Norway, 
Thereto prickt on by a most 

emulate pride 
Dar'd to the combat; in whick 

our valiant Hamlet, 
(For so this side of our knowne 

world esteemd him) 
Did slay this Fortinbrasse, who 

by a seald compact 
Well ratified by lawe and her- 

aldy 
Did forfait (with his life) all 

these his lands 
Which he stood seaz'd of, to 

the conquerour. 
Against th« which a moitie com- 
petent 
Was gaged by our King, [which 

had returne 
To the inheritance of Fortin- 
brasse, 
Had he bin vanquisher; as by 

the same comart, 



DIALOGUE 



359 



ir, young Fortenbrassc, 

Of inapproved mettle hot and 
full. 

Hath in the skirts of Norway 
here and there, 

Sliarkt up a sight of lawlesse 
lutes 

For Uhh\ and diet to some enter- 
prise, 

That hath a stomacke in't: and 
this (I take it) is the 

Chief head and ground of our 
watch. 



And carriage of the article des- 

seigne, 
His fell to Hamlet;] now Sir 

young Fortinbrasse 
Of unimprooved mettle, hot and 

full, 
Hath in the skirts of Norway 

heere and there 
Sliarkt up a list of lawelesse 

resolutes 
For foode and diet to some en- 
terprise 
That hath a stomacke in't 

[which is no other 
As it doth well appeare unto 

our state 
But to recover of us by strong 

hand 
And tearmes compulsatory, 

those foresaid lands 
So by his father lost;] and this 

I take it 
Is [the maine motive of our pre- 
parations 
The source of this our watch, 

and] the chief e head 
Of this post hast and Romadge 

in the land. 
[Bar. I thinke it be no other, 

but enso; 
Well may it sort that this por- 
tentous figure 
Comes armed through our 

watch so like the King 
That was and is the question of 

these war res. 
Hora. A moth it is to trouble 

the mindes eye: 
In the most high and palmy 

state of Rome, 
A little ere the mightiest Julius 

fell 



3 6 ° 



DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 



The graves stood tenantlesse, 

and the sheeted dead 
Did squeake and gibber in the 

Roman streets 
As starres, with traines of fier, 

and dewes of blood 
Disasters in the sunne; and the 

moist starre, 
Upon whose influence Neptunes 

Empier stands, 
"Was sicke almost to doomes- 

day with eclipse. 
And even the like precurse of 

feare events 
As harbindgers preceading still 

the fates • 
And prologue to the Omen com- 

ming on 
Have heaven and earth together 

demonstrated 
Unto our Climatures and coun- 
trymen.] 

Enter Ghost. 

But softe, behold, loe where it 

comes againe 
He crosse it though n spreads 

it blast mee: stay his armet 

illusion, 
[If thou hast any sound or use 

of voyce 
Speake to me,] if there be any 

good thing to be dore 
That may to thee doe ease, and 

grace to mee, 
Speake to me. 1 

Unnecessary detail should, then, be cut from dialogue 
both because it is usually the chief offender in making the 
play unduly long, and because it weakens the dialogue of 

1 The Devonshire Hamlets, pp. 4, 6. 



Enter the Ghost. 
But loe, behold, see where it 

comes againe, 
He crosse it, though it blast 

me: stay illusion, 
If there be any good thing to be 

done, 
That may doe ease to thee, and 

grace to mee, 
Speake to mee. 



DIALOGUE 361 

which it is a part. In argument it is a time-honored principle 
(ha! it i^ far better not to pile up all the evidence you can 
11 point, but by selecting your best argument, or 
>r three of the better type, to strike hard with the se- 
1 material. The same principle underlies writing good 
dramatic dialogue. Say what you have to say as well as 
you can, and except for emphasis or when repetition pro- 
line desired effect, don't repeat. In the speech 
quoted below it became clear in rehearsal that the bracketed 
was not necessary because what preceded showed suffi- 
ciently the affection Miss Helen had roused in the faithful 
nt, Alec. However characterizing or amusing the 
remainder might be, it clogged the movement of the scene. 
Consequently it went out. 

Dick. Hello — what's this Alec? 

A grand pianner, sir. 
Dick. Of course, but where did it come from? 

Miss Helen, she gave it to 'em at Christmas. 
Dick. She — gave it to — them — ? 
Alec. Yes. 

Dick: (Laughing.) But they don't play it, do they? 

Aler. No, she plays it — . An' you oughter hear her play, sir. At 

fter supper when the wind'd howl around the house she'd 

make it -ound like Heaven in here. If I ever get up there I don't 

want white angels and gold harps in mine, — I jes' want Miss 

n an' a grand pianner. (Dick is very sober. [He doesn't speak.) 

An' she ran sing, too. You oughter hear her, — little soft things, 

— none o' this screechy stuff. An' all the old dames sit around — 

an' then when my work was done out in the barn I'd come in an' 

vr there in the corner out o' the way like, an' listen like a old 

myself — with my Adam's apple getting tight every once in a 

while thinkin' o' things. I tell you she's — she's a regular — 

humdinger.] 

Dick: (Quietly.) What time do you expect her back? 



Time forbids any form of fiction to be encyclopaedic. The 
drama is, as we have seen, the most selective of the forms of 



362 



DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 



fiction. Failure to remember this has hurt the chances of 
many a promising dramatist. Few have such skilled and 
loyal advisers as Lord Tennyson found in Sir Henry Irving 
when his over-long Becket must be cut for stage production. 
How much of the following scene in the original do we think 
at first sight we can spare? Much which Sir Henry removed 
we should like to keep, but time-limits forbade and he cut 
with exceeding skill to the best dramatic phrasing offered 
of the essentials of the scene. 

ACT I. SCENE 1. Becket* s House in London. Chamber barely 
furnished. Becket unrobing. Herbert of Bosham and Servant. 

ORIGINAL 



Servant. Shall I not help your 

lordship to your rest? 
Becket. Friend, am I so much 
better than thyself 
That thou shouldst help me? 

Thou art wearied out 
With this day's work, get thee 

to thine own bed. 
Leave me with Herbert, friend. 
(Exit Servant.) 
Help me off, Herbert, with this 
— and this. 
Herbert. Was not the people's 
blessing as we past 
Heart-comfort and a balsam to 
thy blood? 
Becket. The people know 
their Church a tower of 
strength, 
A bulwark against Throne and 

Baronage. 
Too heavy for me, this; off with 
it, Herbert! 
Herbert. Is it so much heavier 
than thy Chancellor's robe ? 



REVISION 

Servant. Shall I not help your 

lordship to your rest? 
Becket. Friend, am I so much 
better than thyself 
That thou shouldst help me? 

Thou art wearied out 
With this day's work, get thee to 

thine own bed. 
Leave me with Herbert, friend. 
(Exit Servant.) 
Help me off Herbert, with this 
— and this. 
Herbert. Was not the people's 
blessing as we past 
Heart-comfort and a balsam to 
thy blood? 
Becket. The people know 
their Church a tower of 
strength, 
A bulwark against Throne and 

Baronage. 
Too heavy for me, this; off with 
it, Herbert! 
Herbert. Is it so much heavier 
than thy Chancellor's robe? 



DIALOGUE 



363 



Reelect. No; but the Chancel- 
1« >r's and the Archbishop's 
'I ther more than mortal 
man can bear. 
Herbert. Not heavier than 
thine armour at Thou- 
loi: 
Becket. O Herbert, Herbert, 
in my chancellorship 
I more than once have gone 
against the Church. 
Herbert. To please the King? 
Becket. Ay, and the King of 
kings, 
Or justice; for it seem'd to me 

but just 
The Church should pay her 

scutage like the lords. 
But hast thou heard this cry of 

Gilbert Foliot 
That I am not the man to be 

your Primate, 
For Henry could not work a 

miracle — 
Make an Archbishop of a sol- 
dier? 
Herbert. Ay, 

For Gilbert Foliot held himself 
the man. 
Becket. Am I the man? My 
mother, ere she bore me, 
Dream'd that twelve stars fell 

glittering out of heaven 
Into her bosom. 
Herbert. Ay, the fire, the 
light, 
The spirit of the twelve Apos- 
tles enter'd 
Into thy making. 
Becket. And when I was 
a child, 



Becket. No; but the Chancel- 
lor's and the Archbishop's 
Together more than mortal 
man can bear. 

Herbert. Not heavier than 
thine armour at Toulouse? 



Becket. But hast thou heard 
this cry of Gilbert Foliot 

That I am not the man to be 
your Primate, 

For Henry could not work a 
miracle — 

Make an Archbishop of a sol- 
dier? 
Herbert. Ay, 

For Gilbert Foliot held himself 
the man. 



364 



DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 



The Virgin, in a vision of my 

sleep, 
Gave me the golden keys of 

Paradise. Dream, 
Or prophecy, that? 
Herbert. Well, dream and 

prophecy both. 
Becket. And when I was 

of Theobald's household, 

once — 
The good old man would some- 
times have his jest — 
He took his mitre off, and set it 

on me, 
And said, "My young Arch- 
bishop — thou wouldst make 
A stately Archbishop!" Jest 

or prophecy there? 
Herbert. Both, Thomas, both. 
Becket. Am I the man? That 

rang 
Within my head last night, and 

when I slept 
Methought I stood in Canter- 
bury Minster, 
And spake to the Lord God, and 

said, "0 Lord, 
I have been a lover of wines 

and delicate meats, 
And secular splendours, and a 

favourer 
Of players, and a courtier, and 

a feeder 
Of dogs and hawks, and apes, 

and lions, and lynxes. 
Am I the man?" And the Lord 

answer'd me, 
"Thou art the man, and all 

the more the man." 
And then I asked again, "O 

Lord my God 



Becket. Am I the man? Tha 

rang 

Within my head last night, and 

when I slept 
Methought I stood in Canter- 
bury Minster, 
And spake to the Lord God and 
said, 



DIALOGUE 



365 



the King hath been my 
friend, my brother 
mine uplifter in this 

world, and chosen me 
For this thy great archbishop- 
rick, believing 
I should go against the 

Church with him, 
And I shall go against him with 

the Church, 
And I have said no word of this 

to him: 
Am / the man? " And the Lord 

\vr\l me, 
"Thou art the man, and all the 

more the man." 
And thereupon, methought, He 

drew toward me, 
And smote me down upon the 

Minster floor. 
I fell. 
Herbert. God make not thee, 

but thy foes, fall. 
Becket. I fell. Why fall? 

Why did he smite me? 

What? 
Shall I fall off — to please the 

King once more? 
Not fight — tho' somehow 

traitor to the King — 
My truest and mine utmost for 

the Church? 
Herbert. Thou canst not fall 

that way. Let traitor 

be; 
For how have fought thine ut- 
most for the Church, 
Save from the throne of thine 

archbishoprick? 
And how been made archbishop 

hadst thou told him, 



"Henry the King hath been 
my friend, my brother 

And mine uplifter in this world, 
and chosen me 

For this thy great archbishop- 
rick, believing 

That I should go against the 
Church with him, 

And I shall go against him with 
the Church. 



Am 7 the man?" And the Lord 

answer'd me, 
"Thou art the man and all the 

more the man." 
And thereupon, methought, He 

drew toward me, 
And smote me down upon the 

Minster floor. 
I fell. 
Herbert. God make not thee, 

but thy foes, fall 



3 66 



DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 



"I mean to fight mine utmost 

for the Church, 
Against the King?" 
Becket. But dost thou 

think the King 
Forced mine election? 
Herbert. I do think 

the King 
Was potent in the election, and 

why not? 
Why should not Heaven have 

so inspired the King? 
Be comforted. Thou art the 

man — be thou 
A mightier Anselm. 

Becket. I do believe thee, 

then. I am the man. 
And yet I seem appall'd — on 

such a sudden 
At such an eagle-height I stand 

and see 
The rift that runs between me 

and the King. 
I served our Theobald well 

when I was with him; 
I served King Henry well as 

Chancellor; 
I am his no more, and I must 

serve the Church. 
This Canterbury is only less 

than Rome, 
And all my doubts I fling from 

me like dust, 
Winnow and scatter all scruples 

to the wind, 
And all the puissance of the 

warrior, 
And all the wisdom of the Chan- 
cellor, 
And all the heap'd experiences 

of life, 



Becket. And yet I seem ap- 
pall'd — on such a sudden 

At such an eagle-height I stand 
and see 

The rift that runs between me 
and the King. 



DIALOGUE 



3 6 7 



I cast upon the side of Canter- 
bury — 
Our holy mother Canterbury, 

who sits 
With tatter'd robes. Laics and 

barons, thro' 
The random gifts of careless 

kings, have graspt 
II. r livings, her advowsons, 

granges, farms, 
And goodly acres — we will 

make her whole; 
Not one rood lost. And for these 

Royal customs, 
These ancient Royal customs — 

they are Royal, 
Not of the Church — and let 

them be anathema, 
And all that speak for them 

anathema. 
Herbert. Thomas, thou art 

moved too much. 
Becket. Oh, Herbert here 
I gash myself asunder from the 

King, 
Tho' leaving each, a wound: 

mine own, a grief 
To show the scar forever — 

his, a hate 
Not ever to be heal'd. 1 



Herbert. Thomas, thou art 

moved too much. 
Becket. O Herbert, here 

I gash myself asunder from the 

King, 
Tho' leaving each, a wound; 

mine own, a grief 
To show the scar forever — his, 

a hate 
Not ever to be heal'd. 2 



Dialogue, then, should avoid all unnecessary detail, and 
should avoid repetition except for desired dramatic ends — 
in other words, must select and again select. 

Practically every illustration thus far used in treating 
dialogue fitted for the stage has shown the enormous im- 
portance of facial expression, gesture, and voice. What the 
voice may do with just two w T ords is the substance of a little 

1 Becket. Tennyson. The Macmillan Co. 

* Becket. Arranged by Sir Henry Irving. Idem. 



368 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

one-act piece made famous years ago by Miss Genevieve 
Ward and later often read by the late George Riddle. An 
actress applying to a manager is tested as to her power to 
express in the two words "Come here" all the emotions 
described by her examiner. As will be seen, the little play, 
when read in the study, lacks effectiveness. Given by an 
actress who can put into the two words all that is demanded, 
it becomes varied, exciting, and even amazing. 

Actress. . . . Your selection may not be in my repertoire. 

Manager. Oh! yes, it is. I only require two words: "Come here." 

Actress. Come here? 

Manager. Yes, and with the words, the meaning, emphasis, and 
expressions, that situation, character, and the surroundings would 
command. 

Actress. ( Takes off her bonnet and shawl.) Well, then, I am ready. 

Manager. Before a mother stand a loving couple, who pray for 
her consent; the lover is poor; she battles with her pride, it is a 
great struggle for her; at last with open arms she cries — 

Actress. Come here! 

Manager. A mother calls her little daughter, who has done 
something to vex her. 

Actress. Come here! 

Manager. And now it is her step-child. 

Actress. Come here! 

Manager. A carriage is dashing by, the child is in the street, the 
mother's heart is filled with terror, she calls her darling and 
cries out — 

Actress. Come here! 

Manager. In tears and sorrow a wife has bid adieu to her de- 
parting husband, whom the State has called to defend his country 
on the battlefield; her only consolation is in her children, these she 
calls, and presses to her heart. 

Actress. Come here! 

Manager. The husband has returned, and full of joy she calls 
her children as she observes him coming home. 

Actress. Come here! 

Manager. While in his arms, she now observes his servant, and 
as with every one she would divide her joy she calls to him — 



DIALOGUE 369 

Come here! 

1 1. f. ■elingsof a mother in all her joys and tribulation, 
' jH-rfectly sustained. Now show me, how in despair 
a widow, who lias lost all she possessed through fire, confronts 
creditors, who clamor for their dues, and whose cruelty has 
killed her husband. She stands by his body and points to all that 
is left her, the remains of her dead husband, and calls on them 
. >k at their work. 
Come here! 
Manager. I must confess you depict pain as if you felt it. * 

Mark, when running through the scene in which Iago 
tempts Othello to his final undoing (Act III, Scene 3.), the 
variety of intonation required in the repetitions of "Hon- 
est" and "Think." In a novel containing this scene the 
absence of the actors' trained intonations would cost the 
author much labor in describing how the words should be 
uttered. 

Othello. Farewell, my Desdemona; I'll come to thee straight. 

Desdemona. Emilia, come. — Be as your fancies teach you; 
e'er you be, I am obedient. 

(Exeunt Desdemona and Emilia.) 

Othello. Excellent wretch! Perdition catch my soul, 
But I do love thee! and when I love thee not, 
Chaos is come again. 

Iago. My noble lord, — 

Othello. What dost thou say, Iago? 

Iago. Did Michael Cassio, when you woo'd my lady, 
Know of your love? 

Othello. He did, from first to last. Why dost thou ask? 

Iago. But for a satisfaction of my thought; 
irther harm. 

Othello. Why of thy thought, Iago? 

Iago. I did not think he had been acquainted with her. 

Othello. O, yes; and went between us very oft. 

Iago. Indeed! 

Othello. Indeed! ay, indeed. Discern'st thou aught in that? 
Is he not honest? 

1 Gtorqe RiddU't Readings. Walter II. Baker & Co., Boston. 



370 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

Iago. Honest, my lord? 

Othello. Honest, ay, honest. 

Iago. My lord, for aught I know. 

Othello. What dost thou think? 

Iago. Think, my lord? 

Othello. Think, my lord! 

By heaven, he echoes me, 
\s if there were some monster in his thought 
Too hideous to be shown. — Thou dost mean something. 
I heard thee say even now, thou lik'st not that, 
When Cassio left my wife. What didst not like? 
And when I told thee he was of my counsel, 
Of my whole course of wooing, thou criedst, "Indeed!" 
And didst contract and purse thy brow together, 
As if thou then hadst shut up in thy brain 
Some horrible conceit. If thou dost love me, 
Show me thy thought. 

Even passages in a play which look very unpromising 
should not be finally judged till a flexible, well-trained voice 
has done its best to bring out any emotion latent in the 
words. If they were originally chosen by an author writing 
in full sympathetic understanding of his figures, they will, 
properly spoken, reveal unexpected emotional values. Here 
is a passage from Kyd's Spanish Tragedy at which many a 
critic has poked fun. At first sight it undoubtedly seems 
merely "words, words, words." 

Hieronimo. O eyes! no eyes, but fountains fraught with tears: 
O life! no life but lively form of death: 
O world ! no world but mass of public wrongs, 
Confus'd and fill'd with murder and misdeeds: 
O sacred heav'ns! if this unhallow'd deed, 
If this inhuman and barbarous attempt; 
If this incomparable murder thus, 
Of mine, but now no more my son, 
Should unreveaPd and unrevenged pass, 
How should we term your dealings to be just 
If you unjustly deal with those that in your justice trust? l 

1 The Origin of the English Drama, vol. n, p. 48. T. Hawkins, ed. Clarendon Press, 
Oxford, 1773. 



DIALOGUE 371 

If we remember what the play has already told us of 
ronimo: that having found his son hanging murdered in 
arbor, he enters in a perfect ecstasy of grief; and if we 
recall that the Elizabethan loved a style as ornate as this, 
feeling it no barrier between him and the thought behind it; 
the look of the passage begins to change. Put the feeling of 
the father into the voice as one reads, and lo, these lines are 
Dot a bad medium for expressing Hieronimo's grief. They 
v lack the simplicity we demand today, but strong, clear 
feeling may be brought out from behind them for any 
audience. For an Elizabethan audience it came forth in a 
style delightful in itself. The fact is, time cannot wholly spoil 
the value even of lines phrased according to the standards of 
some literary vogue of the moment if the author originally 
wrote them with an imagination kindled to accuracy of 
feeling by complete sympathy with his characters. Never 
judge the dialogue of a play only by the eye. Hear it ade- 
quately, interpretively spoken. Then, and then only, judge 
it finally. 

•It is almost impossible, also, to separate the voice from 
gesture and facial expression as aids in dramatic dialogue. 
1'nquestionably each of these would help the voice in the 
illustrations just given from Come Here, Othello, and the 
Spanish Tragedy. When Antony, absorbed in Cleopatra, 
and therefore unwilling to listen to the messenger bearing 
tidings of the utmost importance from Rome, cries, "Grates 
me: the sum!" 1 it is not merely the intonation but the 
accompanying gesture in the sense of general bodily move- 
ment, and the facial expression, which make the condensed 
phrasing both natural and immensely effective. When Frank- 
ford (A Woman Killed With Kindness, Act III, Scene 2) 2 
asks his old servant, Nicholas, for proof of Mrs. Frankford's 

1 Antony and Cleopatra, Act 1, Scene 1. 

• Belles-Lettres Series. K. L. Bates, ed. D. C. Heath & Co., Boston and New York 



372 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

unfaithfulness the answer is not, "I saw her," or "I saw her 
and her lover with my eyes," but simply "Eyes, eyes." The 
last are what rightly, in dramatic dialogue, may be called 
"gesture words," words demanding for their full effect not 
only the right intonation, but facial expression and all that 
pantomime may mean. The old man lifts his head, and, 
though unwillingly, looks his master straight in the face as 
he speaks. Perhaps he even emphasizes by lifting his hand 
t oward his eyes. With the concomitants of action and voice, 
the words take on finality and equal: "What greater proof 
could I have? I saw the lovers with these eyes." 

So close, indeed, is the relation between action and phras- 
ing that often we cannot tell whether dialogue is good or 
bad till we have made sure of the "business" implied by it, 
or to be found in it by an imaginative worker. The following 
passage from The Revesby Sword Play is distinctly mislead- 
ing because of the word, "looking-glass" unless one studies 
the context closely for implied business, and above all, 
understands the sword dances of the period in which the 
play was written. 

Fool. Well, what dost thou call this very pretty thing? 
Pickle Herring. Why, I call it a fine large looking-glass. 
Fool. Let me see what I can see in this fine large looking-glass. 
Here's a hole through it, I see. I see, and I see! 

Pickle Herring. You see and you see, and what do you see? 

Fool. Marry, e'en a fool, — just like thee! 

Pickle Herring. It is only your own face in the glass. 1 

A "looking-glass" with "a hole through it" seems nearly 
a contradiction in terms, but the word "glass" is synony- 
mous with "nut," a name given to the swords of English 
Folk Dances when so interwoven as to make a kind of 
frame about a central space. This space is often large 
enough for a man's head. The Fool has seen the dancers 

1 Pre-Shakesperean Drama, vol. i, p. 300. J. M. Manly. Ginn & Co., Boston. 



DIALOGUE 

h a nut. Holding it up, he asks Pickle Herring 

Pickle Herring, seeing the FooFs face through 

the opening and seizing his chance for a jest, calls the nut a 

•king-glass." The Fool carries on the conceit. Looking 

through the hole he and Pickle Herring jibe at each other. 

whole Revesby Sword Play provides illustration after 

illustration of the inseparability of words and business in 

good dramatic dialogue. 

"business" is meant ordinarily either illustrative 
action called for by a stage direction or clearly implied in 
the text. By "latent business" is meant the illustrative 
action which a sympathetic and imaginative producer finds 
in lines either ordinarily left without business or treated with 
some conventional action. Mr. William PoeFs historic re- 
1 of Everyman was crowded with such imaginative and 
richly interpretive business. When Death cried, 

Everyman, thou art mad! Thou hast thy wits five, 
And here on earth will not amend thy life! 
For suddenly I do come — 

on that last line he stretched out one arm and with the index 
t of his hand barely touched the heart of Everyman. 
In the gesture there was a suggestion of what might be going 
to happen, even a suggestion that already Death thus 
claimed Everyman for his own. It pointed finely the imme- 
diate cry of Everyman, 

O wretched caitiff, whither shall I flee, 
That I might scape this endless sorrow? * 

The text did not call for this gesture: it belongs to the best 

of interpretive business. 

Few untrained persons hear what they write: they merely 

see it. The skilled dramatist never forgets that he has to 

help him in his dialogue all that intonation, facial expression, 

1 Early Play$, p. 72. C. G. Child. Riverside Literature Series, No. 191. Houghton Mifflin 
-ton. 



374 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

gesture, and the general action of his characters may do for 
him. Which, after all, is the more touching, the cry of pleas- 
ure with which some child of the streets, at a charity Chris- 
mas tree, gazes at a rag doll some one holds out to her, or 
the silent mothering gesture with which she draws it close 
to her, her face alight? It is just because, at times, facial 
expression, gesture, and movement may so completely ex- 
press all that is needed that pantomime is coming to play 
a larger and larger part in our drama. Older readers of this 
book may recall the late Agnes Booth and her long silent 
scene in Jim, The Penman. By comparison of a letter and a 
cheque, Kate Ralston becomes aware that her husband is a 
famous forger, Jim, the Penman. Through all this great scene 
of an otherwise cheap play, the physical movement was very 
slight. The actress, three-quarters turned toward the audi- 
ence, sat near a table. It was her facial expression and, 
rarely, a slight movement of the arms or body which con- 
veyed her succession of increasingly intense emotions. The 
significant pantomime began with "She puts cheque with 
others." The acting of the next seven lines of stage direction 
held an audience with increasing intensity of feeling for 
some five minutes. 

Nina (Mrs. Ralston) has just told her husband that she 
discovered Captain Redwood asleep in the conservatory at 
the end of Act I. Though she does not know it, this shows 
her husband that all his incriminating interview with Dr. 
Hartfeld may have been overheard. He falls into disturbed 
reverie and is so absorbed in thinking out the situation that 
he is oblivious to what she does. 

Nina. Now then, for my pass-book. 

(Opens pass-book and takes passed cheques out of side 
pocket of book. Music.) 
Ralston. (Aside.) He heard all! If she had told me, she would 
have saved me. 



DIALOGUE 375 

na. (Looking at a cheque.) What is this cheque? I don't re- 
iber it. A cheque for 6ve guineas in favor of Mrs. Chapstone. 
I never gave her a cheque. Oh, I recollect, that same evening 
I mothered you to take some tickets and you took them in my 
name. I never had the tickets, by-the-bye. I suppose she sold 
them over again. Yes, to be sure, you wrote the cheque. You 
asked permission to sign my name. How wonderfully like my 
writing! Why, it quite deceives me, it's so marvelous! 

{Ralston, in chair, is lost in thought, and hardly attends to 
what she says. She puts cheque with others and goes 
through accounts. Pauses, puts pass-book down, and 
takes up cheque again, examines it; turns her head and 
looks at Ralston, observes his absorption, and after an- 
other look at him takes from drawer the letter which Per- 
cival gave her and the other. She places them and the 
cheque together, almost in terror; comparing them, a look 
of painful conviction comes over her face, which changes 
into one of terrible determination. She rises from cliair. 
Stop music on the word "James.") 1 

The greatest recent instance of pantomime is undoubt- 
edly the third scene of Act III of Mr. Galsworthy's Justice. 
Set in Falder's cell, it is meant to illustrate the loneliness, 
the excitability, and even the brutishness of a prisoner's life. 
Many people, while admitting the effectiveness of this word- 
less scene, have declared it emotionally so overwhelming 
that they could not endure seeing it a second time. 

Falder's cell, a whitewashed space thirteen feet broad by seven deep, 
and nine feet high, with a rounded ceiling. The floor is of shiny black- 
ened bricks. The barred window of opaque glass with a ventilator, is 
high up in the middle of the end wall. In the middle of the opposite end 
wall is a narrow door. In a corner are the mattress and bedding rolled 
up (two blankets, two sheets, and a coverlet). Above them is a quarter- 
circular wooden shelf, on which is a Bible and several little devotional 
books, piled in a symmetrical pyramid; there are also a black hair- 
brush, tooth-brush, and a bit of soap. In another corner is the wooden 
frame of a bed, standing on end. There is a dark ventilator over the 

» Samuel French, New York. 



376 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

window, and another over the door. Folder's work (a shirt to which he 
is putting button holes) is hung to a nail on the wall over a small 
wooden table, on which the novel, "Lorna Doone," 1 lies open. Low 
down in the corner by the door is a thick glass screen, about a foot 
square, covering the gas-jet let into the wall. There is also a wooden 
stool, and a pair of shoes beneath it. Three bright round tins are set 
under the window. 

In the fast failing daylight, Folder, in his stockings, is seen standing 
motionless, with his head inclined towards the door, listening. He 
moves a little closer to the door, his stockinged feet making no noise. He 
stops at the door. He is trying harder and harder to hear something, 
any little thing that is going on outside. He springs suddenly upright — 
as if at a sound, and remains perfectly motionless. Then, with a heavy 
sigh, he moves to his work, and stands looking at it, with his head 
doivn ; he does a stitch or two, having the air of a man so lost in sadness 
that each stitch is, as it were, a coming to life. Then turning abruptly, 
he begins pacing the cell, moving his head, like an animal pacing its 
cage. He stops again at the door, listens, and, placing the palms of 
his hands against it with his fingers spread out, leans his forehead 
against the iron. Turning from it, presently, he moves slowly back 
towards the window, tracing his way with his finger along the top line 
of the distemper that runs round the wall. He stops under the window, 
and, piclcing up the lid of one of the tins, peers into it. It has grown 
very nearly dark. Suddenly the lid falls out of his hands with a clatter, 
the only sound that has broken the silence — and he stands staring in- 
tently at the wall where the stuff of the shirt is hanging rather white 
in the darkness — he seems to be seeing somebody or something there. 
There is a sharp tap and click ; the cell light behind the glass screen 
has been turned up. The cell is brightly lighted. Folder is seen gasping 
for breath. 

A sound from far away, as of distant, dull beating on thick metal, 
is suddenly audible. Falder shrinks back, not able to bear this sudden 
clamour. But the sound grows, as though some great tumbril icere 
rolling towards the cell. And gradually it seems to hypnotise him. 
He begins creeping inch by inch nearer to the door. The banging 
sound, travelling from cell to cell, draws closer and closer; Folder's 
hands are seen moving as if his spirit had already joined in this beat- 
ing, and the sound swells till it seems to have entered the very cell. 

1 Note that this is a literary detail effective for readers only. At best the first row of spec- 
tators alone could identify the title of the book. 



DIALOGUE 377 

rdy raises his clenched fists. Panting violently, he flings 
'f at his door, and beats on it. 

The curtain falls. 1 

Perhaps an even more interesting illustration of panto- 
mime, localise it gives us, instead of the heightening emo- 
tion of one i>erson, the action of two characters upon each 
r, is found in Hugo von Hofmannsthal's Die Frau im 

Vr. 

remains leaning over the parapet thus for a long time. Suddenly 

she thinks she hears something as the curtain behind her, separating 

her balcony from the room, is thrown open. Turning her head she sees 

her husband standing in the doorway. She springs up; her features 

d with the utmost anguish. Messer Braccio stands si- 

in the doorway. He wears a simple dark green dressing-gown, 

without weapons; low shoes. He is very tall and strong. His face lias 

■ality that often shows itself in the old pictures of great lords and 

n. He has an exceedingly large forehead, and little, dark 

. thick black hair, short and curly, and a small beard round his face. 

ora wislies to speak, but can bring no sound from her throat. 

r>raccio motions for her to draw in tfie ladder. Dianora does 

so automatically, rolls it together, and as though unconscious, lets the 

bundle fall at her feet. Braccio regards her calmly. Then he grasps his 

left hip with his right hand, also with his left hand, and looking down, 

that he has no dagger. Making an impatient movement of the lips 

inces down into the garden and behind him. He lifts his right 

hand for an instant and looks at its palm. He goes back into the room 

with fi rm , unhurr ied steps. 

Dianora looks after him continually; she cannot take her eyes from 
him. When the curtain falls behind him, she passes her fingers over 
heeks and through her hair. Then she folds her hands and with 
wildly twitching lips silently prays. Then she throws her arms back- 
' and grasps the stone coping with her fingers, a movement re- 
vealing firm resolution and a hint of triumph. 

Braccio steps out through the door again, carrying in his left hand 
a stool which he places in the dooncay, and then sits dmcn opposite 
his wife. His expression has not changed. From time to time he lifts 
his right liand mechanically and regards the small wound in its palm. 

» Juttict. Copyright, 1910, by John Galsworthy. Cbas. Scribner'a Sons, New York. 



378 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

Braccio. (His tone is cold, slightly disdainful. He indicates the 
ladder with his foot and his eyes.) Who is it? 

(Dianora lifts her shoulders t then lets them fall again slowly.) 
Braccio. I know. 

(Dianora lifts her shoulders, then lets them fall again slowly. 
Her teeth are pressed tightly together.) 
Braccio. (Raising his hand with the movement but touching his 
wife only with his glance; then he turns his gaze toward the garden 
again.) Palla degli Albizzi. 1 

Such elaborate pantomime as the cases just cited is natu- 
rally rare, but a dramatist is always watching for an oppor- 
tunity to shorten by pantomime a speech or the dialogue of 
a scene, or to intensify by it the effect of his words. 2 Is any- 
thing in Shore Acres, by James A. Heme, more memorable 
than the last scene? In it Uncle Nat, who has established 
the happiness of the household, lights his candle deliber- 
ately and goes slowly up the long staircase to his bedroom, 
humming softly. He is the very picture of spiritual content. 
Words would have spoiled that scene as they have spoiled 
many and many a scene of an inexperienced dramatist. 

Iris, at the end of Act III of Pinero's play of that name, is 
on the point of leaving Bellagio. Maldonado has left lying 
on her table a checkbook on a bank in which he has placed 
a few hundred pounds in her name. Because of the defalca- 
tion of her lawyer, she is in financial straits. Maldonado 
wishes to help her but also to gain power over her. Unwilling 
to take the checkbook, she has urged him to remove it. 
Lacking firmness of character, however, she lets him have 
it, saying she will destroy it. 

With a troubled, half -guilty look, Iris attires herself in her hat and 
cape ; after which, carrying her gloves, she returns to her dressing-bag. 
Glancing round the room to assure herself that she has collected all her 
small personal belongings, her eyes rest on the checque-book which lies 
open on the writing-table. She contemplates it for a time, a gradually 

1 Die Frau im Fenster. Theater in Versen. H. von Hofmannsthal. S. Fischer, Berlin. 
8 The final scene of Act IV of Nathan Hale shows effective use of pantomime. 






DIALOGUE 379 

increasing fear shotting itself in her face. Ultimately she walks slowly 
table and picks up a book. She is fingering it in an uncertain, 
frightened way when the servant returns. 

in-servant. (Standing over the bag.) Is there anything more, 
ma'am — ? 

(She hesitates helplessly ; then, becoming conscious that she 
is being stared at, she advances, drops the book into the 
bag, and passes out. The man shuts the bag and is fol- 
lowing her as the curtain falls.) l 

This passage from Act I of The Great Divide shows panto- 
mime supplementing speech as the dramatist of experience 
frequently employs it. A writer of less sure feeling would 
have permitted his characters some unnecessary or involved 
speech. 

(Ruth selects a red flower, pids it in the dark mass of her hair, and 
looks out at the open door.) What a scandal the moon is making out 
in that great crazy world! Who but me could think of sleeping on 
such a night? 

(She sits down, folds the flowers in her arms, and buries her 
face in them. After a moment, she starts up, listens, goes 
hurriedly to the door, draws tlie curtains before the window* 
comes swiftly to the table, and blows out the light. The 
room is left in total darkness. There are muttering voices 
outside, the latch is tried, then a heavy lunge breaks the bolt. 
A man pushes in, but is hurled back by a taller man, with 
a snarling oath. A third figure advances to the table, and 
strikes a match. As soon as the match is lighted Ruth lev- 
els the gun, which she has taken from its rack above the 
mantel. There is heard the click of the hammer, as the 
gun misses fire. It is instantly struck from her hand by 
the first man (Dutch), who attempts to seize her. She 
evades him and tries to wrest a pistol from a holster on 
the wall. She is met by the second man (Shorty), who 
frustrates the attempt, pocketing the weapon. While this 
has been going on, the third man (Ghent) has been fum- 
bling with the lamp, which he has at last succeeded in 

> Walter H. Baker & Co., Boston; W. Heioemann, London. 



380 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

lighting. AU three are dressed in rude frontier fashion , 
the one called Shorty is a Mexican half-breed, the others 
are Americans. Ghent is younger than Dutch, and taller, 
but less 'powerfully built. AU are intoxicated, but not 
sufficiently so to incapacitate them from rapid action. 
The Mexican has seized Ruth and attempts to drag her 
toward the inner room. She breaks loose and flies back 
again to the chimney place, where she stands at bay. 
Ghent remains motionless and silent by the table, gazing 
at her.) 

Dutch. (Uncorking a whiskey flask.) Plucky little catamount. I 
drink its health. {Drinks.) 

Ruth. What do you want here? 1 

Hofmannsthal, in his Electra, uses pantomime as only 
one detail, but no words could so paint the mad triumph of 
the sister of Orestes as does her "incredible dance." 

(Electra has raised herself. She steps down from the thresJiold» 
her head thrown back like a Mamad. She lifts her knees, 
stretches out her arms; it is an incredible dance in which 
she steps forward. 
Chrysothemis appearing again at the door, behind her 
torches, a Throng, faces of Men and Women.) 
Chrysothemis. Electra! 

Electra. (Stands still, gazing at her fixedly.) Be silent and dance. 
Come hither all of you! 
Join with me all ! I bear the burden of joy, 
And I dance before you here. One thing alone 
Remains for all who are as happy as we; 
To be silent and dance. 

(She does a few more steps of tense triumph, and falls 
a-heap. Chrysothemis runs to her. Electra lies motionless. 
Chrysothemis runs to the door of the house and knocks.) 
Chrysothemis. Orestes! Orestes! (Silence.) 

Curtain. 2 

Without question, then, speech in the drama may often 
give way in part or wholly to pantomime. The inexperienced 

1 The Great Divide, Act i. The Macmillan Co., New York. 
1 Translated by Arthur Symons. Brentano, New York. 



DIALOGUE 381 

dramatist should be constantly alert to see to what extent 
in substitute it for dialogue. 1 

In all that has been said of pantomime, of course tech- 
nical pantomime is not meant. The Cammedia deW arte, 
tomime artists like the Ravel Brothers or Mme. Pilar- 
Morin, have a code of gesture to symbolize fixed mean- 
ings. What is meant here is the natural human pantomime 
of people whose faces and bodies portray or betray their 
feelings. 

Another word of warning in regard to pantomime. When 
a writer of plays once becomes well aware of the great value 
of pantomime, he is likely to overwork it. Assuming that 
the actor or actors may convey almost anything by physical 
movement, he trusts it too much. Let him who is for the 
moment under the spell of pantomime study the moving 
picture show. Pantomime may ordinarily convey physical 
action perfectly. Emotion naturally and easily expressed 
by action pantomime may convey, but when action for its 
clearness depends on knowledge of what is going on in the 
mind of the actor, pantomime begins to fail. Great artists 
like Mme. Pilar-Morin may carry us far even under these 
conditions, but most actors cannot. In a motion picture 
play like Cabiria, contrast the scenes in which the Roman 
and his slave flee before the crowd from part to part of the 
temple (mere action), or the scene of the terror of the wine 
merchant (in which the face and body tell the whole story) 
with the scene in which the nurse meets the Roman and his 
slave on the wall of the city and begs their aid in saving the 
child, or the scenes in which Sophonisba struggles with her 
anxieties and mad desires. The second group of pictures 
without the explanations thrown on the screen would have 
ittle meaning. Pantomime is safe, not when it pleases us 
to use pantomime rather than to write dialogue, but when 

1 For such skilful substitution of pantomime for words, see pp. 888-89, Lady Winder- 
wme$ Fan. 



382 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

our characters naturally act rather than speak, or when we 
can devise for them natural action as clear as speech or 
clearer than speech. Use pantomime, but use it cautiously. 
Speech is the greatest emotional weapon of the dramatist. 
It best reveals emotion, and best of all creates responsive 
emotion. However, as most inexperienced dramatists use 
far too many words rather than too few, the value rather 
than the danger of pantomime should probably be stressed 
here. What seems natural, what makes for illusion, is the 
final test. 

It is this test of naturalness which has gradually excluded, 
except in special instances, the soliloquy and the aside. The 
general movement of drama in the past ten years has been 
toward better and better characterization in plays of all 
kinds. The newer melodrama and farce show us, not the 
mere comic puppets of the past, but people as real as the 
form represented — be it comedy, farce, tragedy, or melo- 
drama — will permit. This new tendency has largely driven 
out the soliloquy and the aside. We should not, however, 
go to extremes, for occasionally we do swear under our 
breath or comment in asides, and as long as people do either, 
such people should be so represented. Moreover, we must 
admit that the insane, the demented, the invalid left much 
to himself, the hermit, whether of the woods or the hall bed- 
room in a city boarding house, do talk to themselves and 
often at great length. Neither the aside nor the soliloquy 
is, then, objectionable in itself. It is the use of either by 
persons who would probably use nothing of the sort, or their 
use in order to avoid exposition otherwise difficult which is 
to be decried. It is particularly this latter fault to which 
Sir Arthur Pinero calls attention when treating the faulty 
technique of R. L. Stevenson as a playwright: 

" I will read you one of the many soliloquies — the 
faulty method of conducting action and revealing charac- 



DIALOGUE 383 

ter by soliloquy was one from which Stevenson could never 
emancipate himself. It is a speech delivered by Deacon 
Brodie while he is making preparations for a midnight 
gambling excursion. 

(Brodie closes, locks, and double-bolts the doors of his bedroom.) 
Deacon Brodie. Now for one of the Deacon's headaches! Rogues 
all, rogues all! {He goes to the clothes press and proceeds to change 
his coat.) On with the new coat and into the new life! Down with 
the Deacon and up with the robber! Eh God! How still the house 
is! There's something in hypocrisy after all. If we were as good 
as we seem, what would the world be? The city has its vizard on 
and we — at night we are our naked selves. Trysts are keeping, 
bottles cracking, knives are stripping; and here is Deacon Brodie 
flaming forth the man of men he is! How still it is! — My father 
and Mary — Well! The day for them, the night for me; the grimy 
cynical night that makes all cats grey, and all honesties of one 
complexion. Shall a man not have half a life of his own? not eight 
hours out of twenty-four? Eight shall he have should he dare the 
pit of Tophet. Where's the blunt? I must be cool tonight, or — 
steady Deacon, you must win; damn you, you must! You must win 
back the dowry that you've stolen, and marry your sister and 
pay your debts, and gull the world a little longer! The Deacon's 
going to bed — the poor sick Deacon! AUons! Only the stars to 
see me! I'm a man once more till morning! [Act 1, Tableau 1, 
Scene 9.] l 

Sir Arthur knows whereof he speaks, for past-master as 
he has shown himself since The Second Mrs. Tanqueray in 
the art of giving necessary exposition and characterization 
without soliloquy, he was a bad offender in his early days, 
as the following extract from the opening of The Money 
Spinner shows: 

(Directly Margot has disappeared, there is a knocking out- 
side the door, right. It is repeated, then the doors slowly 
open and the head of Monsieur Jules Faubert appears.) 
Faubert. (Who also speaks with the accent of a foreigner^) Boycott, 

1 Robert Louis Stevenson, the Dramatist, p. 15. Sir A. W. Pinero. Chiswick Press, London 
For the play see Three Plays, Henley and Stevenson. Chas. Scribner's Sons, New York. 



384 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

my friend, are you at home? My friend Boycott, do you hear me? 
(Receiving no answer, he enters rather cautiously and looks around. 
He is in black, wearing a long, tightly buttoned frock coat and a tall 
hat. His liair is red and closely cropped. His voice is soft and his 
manner stealthy and mechanical.) Where is Boycott, my friend? Ah, 
he has not yet taken his breakfast. (He crosses over to the curtains, 
left, and looks through.) No one to be seen. Boycott asks me to call 
for him at ten o'clock in the morning, and it is now a quarter past 
ten by the Great Clock, and he is not visible. (Walking round the 
room, inspecting the objects with curiosity.) Yet he could not have 
left the house for I have been watching at the front door since eight 
o'clock. (Takes letters from top of Pianette.) Besides, here are his 
letters unopened. (Examines tliem narrowly, scrutinizing the writ- 
ing, and weighing tliem in his hand.) One, Mr. Boycott, with the 
post-mark of London. Two, Monsieur Boycott with the post-mark 
of Rouen. Three, Madame Boycott with the post-mark of Paris. 
(Replacing letters.) Ah, I have not yet the pleasure of the acquain- 
tance of Madame Boycott. Poor soul, perhaps she will know me 
some day. (Going over to the door, right.) Well, I shall call again 
after breakfast. My friend Boycott is getting very unpunctual — 
a bad sign — a very bad sign. 1 

The unnaturalness of the two foregoing illustrations needs 
no comment. The Elizabethan author, knowing that above 
all else the dramatist must make clear why his people do 
what they do, used soliloquy with the utmost frankness as 
the easiest method of exposition. Here are three specimens, 
one from Webster and two from Shakespeare. 

Cardinal. The reason why I would not surfer these 
About my brother is because at midnight 
I may with better privacy convay 
Julias body, to her owne lodging. O, my conscience! 
I would pray now : but the divell takes away my heart 
For having any confidence in praier. 
About this houre I appointed Bosola 
To fetch the body: when he hath serv'd my turne, 
He dies. (Exit) 2 

1 Samuel French, New York. 

2 The Duchesse of Malfi, Act v, Scene 4. Belles-Lettres Series. M. W. Sampson, ed 
D. C. Heath & Co., Boston and New York. 



DIALOGUE 385 

Iago. That Cassio loves her I do well believe't; 
That she loves him, 'tis apt and of great credit; 
The Moor, howbeit that I endure him not, 
Is of a constant, loving, noble nature, 
And I dare think he'll prove to Desdemona 
A most dear husband. Now, I do love her too; 
Not out of absolute lust, though peradventure 
I stand accountant for as great a sin, 
But partly led to diet my revenge, 
For that I do suspect the lusty Moor 
Hath leap'd into my seat; the thought whereof 
Doth, like a poisonous mineral, gnaw my inwards; 
And nothing can or shall content my soul 
Till I am even'd with him, wife for wife; 
Or failing so, yet that I put the Moor 
At least into a jealousy so strong 
That judgement cannot cure. Which thing to do, 
If this poor trash of Venice, whom I trash 
For his quick hunting, stand the putting on, 
I '11 have our Michael Cassio on the hip, 
Abuse him to the Moor in the rank garb — 
For I fear Cassio with my night-cap too — 
Make the Moor thank me, love me, and reward me, 
For making him egregiously an ass 
And practising upon his peace and quiet 
Even to madness. 'Tis here, but yet confus'd; 
Knavery's plain face is never seen till us'd. (Exit.)"- 

Emilia. I am glad I have found this napkin; 
This was her first remembrance from the Moor. 
My wayward husband hath a hundred times 
Woo'd me to steal it; but she so loves the token, 
For he conjur'd her she should ever keep it, 
That she reserves it evermore about her 
To kiss and talk to. I'll have the work ta'en out, 
And give 't Iago. What he will do with it 
Heaven knows, not I; 
I nothing but to please his fantasy. 2 

1 Othello, Act n, Scene 1. ■ Othello, Act in, Scene S. 



386 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

Echegaray's The Great Galeoto (1881), though a part of 
the newer movement in the drama, shows soliloquy. 



SCENE. Madrid of our day. 
PROLOGUE 

A study; to the left a balcony; on the right a door; in the middle a 
table strewn with papers and books, and a lighted lamp upon it. 
Towards the right a sofa. Night. 

SCENE 1. 

Ernest. (Seated at a table and preparing to write.) Nothing — 
impossible. It is striving with the impossible. The idea is there; 
my head is fevered with it; I feel it. At moments an inward light 
illuminates it, and I see it. I see it in its floating form, vaguely 
outlined, and suddenly a secret voice seems to animate it, and I 
hear sounds of sorrow, sonorous sighs, shouts of sardonic laughter 
— a whole world of passions alive and struggling — They burst 
forth from me, extend around me and the air is full of them. 
Then, then I say to myself: " 'Tis now the moment." I take up my 
pen, stare into space, listen attentively, restraining my very heart- 
beats, and bend over the paper — Ah, but the irony of impotency! 
The outlines become blurred, the vision fades, the cries and sighs 
faint away — and nothingness, nothingness encircles me — The 
monotony of empty space, of inert thought, of dreamy lassitude! 
and more than all the monotony of an idle pen and lifeless paper 
that lacks the life of thought! Ah, how varied are the shapes of 
nothingness, and how, in its dark and silent way, it mocks creatures 
of my stamp! So many, many forms. Canvas without color, bits 
of marble without shape, confused noise of chaotic vibrations. But 
nothing more irritating, more insolent, meaner than this insolent 
pen of mine (throws it away), nothing worse than this white sheet 
of paper. Oh, if I cannot fill it, at least I may destroy it — vile 
accomplice of my ambition and my eternal humiliation. Thus, 
thus — smaller and still smaller. (Tears up paper. Pauses.) And 
then! How lucky that nobody saw me! For in truth, such fury is 
absurd and unjust. No, I will not yield. I will think and think until 



DIALOGUE 387 

I have conquered or am crushed. No, I will not give up. Let me 
§ee, let me see — if in that way — l 

Such soliloquy, even if conventionally justifiable in its 
own time, is rarely, if ever, necessary. Scene 2 of Echegaray's 
play shows Ernest and Don Julian discussing the former's 
difficulty in working. What could be easier, then, than to 
cut the scene just cited to Ernest seated at a writing table 
and showing by his pantomime how impossible he finds 
composition? Why should he not act out the lines, "I take 
up my pen, stare into space, listen attentively, — bend over 
the paper . . . and nothingness, nothingness"? If as a cli- 
max he throws away his pen and tears up his paper, it cer- 
tainly should be clear that he is thoroughly exasperated with 
his failure to write what he wishes. In Scene 2 a very slight 
change or amplification in the phrasing will permit him to 
bring out whatever of importance in Scene 1 the suggested 
revision has omitted. 

Doubtless it would not be so easy to get rid of the solilo- 
quies of the Cardinal, Iago, and Emilia, but ingenuity in 
handling the scene preceding and the scene following solilo- 
quies will usually dispose of all or most of them. WTien Lady 
Windermere's Fan of Wilde first appeared, hardly any one 
seriously objected to its soliloquies. They were an accepted 
convention of the stage. When Miss Margaret Anglin re- 
vived the play very successfully a year or two ago, she 
rightly felt these soliloquies to be outworn. By use of pan- 
tomime, in some cases hardly more than the pantomime 
called for in the stage directions, she disposed of all except 
an occasional line or two of the original soliloquies. The 
instances cited from her prompt book of the play show one 
soliloquy cut to stage directions and two lines of the original, 
and the second cut to mere stage direction. 

1 Drama Ltague Strict. Hannah Lynch, tr. Doubleday, Page & Co. 



3 88 



DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 



ACT I. 



Lady Windermere. How hor- 
rible! I understand now what 
Lord Darlington meant by the 
imaginary instance of the couple 
not two years married. Oh! it 
can't be true — she spoke of 
enormous sums of money paid 
to this woman. I know where 
Arthur keeps his bank book — 
in one of the drawers of that 
desk. I might find out by that. 
I will find out. (Opens drawer.) 
No, it is some hideous mistake. 
(Rises and goes C.) Some silly 
scandal! He loves me! He loves 
me! But why should I not look? 
I am his wife, I have a right to 
look! (Returns to bureau, takes 
out book and examines it, page by 
page, smiles and gives a sigh of 
relief.) I knew it, there is not 
a word of truth in this stupid 
story. (Puts book back in drawer. 
As she does so, starts and takes 
out another book.) A second book 

— private — locked! (Tries to 
open it but fails. Sees paper 
knife on bureau, and with it cuts 
cover from book. Begins to start 
at the first page.) Mrs. Erlynne 

— £600 — Mrs. — Erlynne — 
£700 — Mrs. Erlynne — £400. 
Oh! it is true! it is true! How 
horrible! (Throws book on floor.) 1 



(Lady Windermere sits left 
of centre, looks toward 
desk, rises, starts toward 
desk, hesitates centre, goes 
to desk, tries drawer, hunts 
for and finds key, unlocks 
drawer, takes out check 
book, looks over stubs, finds 
nothing and is relieved, 
then sees first entry.) 
Lady Windermere. Mrs. Er- 
lynne — £600 — Mrs. Erlynne 
— £700 — Mrs. Erlynne — 
£400. Oh! it is true! it is true! 



1 Plays, vol. i. J. W. Luce & Co., Boston. 






DIALOGUE 



389 



ACTIH. 



Lady Windermere. (Standing 
by the fireplace.) Why doesn't 
This waiting is hor- 
rible. Be should be here. Why 
is be n«>t lure, to wake by pas- 
■onate words some fire within 
1 [am cold — cold as a love- 
less thing. Arthur must have 
read my letter by this time. If 
he cared for me, he would have 
come after me, and have taken 
me back by force. But he doesn't 
care. He's entrammeled by this 
woman — fascinated by her — 
dominated by her. If a woman 
wants to hold a man, she has 
merely to appeal to what is 
worst in him. We make gods of 
men and they leave us. Others 
make brutes of them and they 
fawn and are faithful. How 
hideous life is! . . . Oh! it was 
mad of me to come here, hor- 
ribly mad. And yet which is the 
worst, I wonder, to be at the 
mercy of a man who loves one, 
or the wife of a man who in one's 
own house dishonors one? What 
woman knows? What woman 
in the whole world? But will he 
love me always, this man to 
whom I am giving my life? 
What do I bring him? Lips that 
have lost the note of joy, eyes 
that are blighted by tears, chill 
han<ls and icy heart. I bring 
him nothing. I must go back — 
no; I can't go back, my letter 



(Lady Windermere discov- 
ered at fireplace, L., crosses 
to chair, L. of C, takes 
cloak from chair, puts 
cloak on crossing to door 
U.L.y stops, decides to 
stay, crosses to R. of D.C. 
Enter Mrs. Erlynne.) 



390 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

has put me in their power — 
Arthur would not take me back! 
That fatal letter! No! Lord 
Darlington leaves England to- 
morrow. I will go with him — I 
have no choice. (Sits down for a 
few moments. Then starts up and 
puts on her cloak.) No, no! I 
will go back, let Arthur do with 
me what he pleases. I can't wait 
here. It has been madness my 
coming. I must go at once. As 
for Lord Darlington — Oh! here 
he is! What shall I do? What 
can I say to him? Will he let me 
go away at all? I have heard 
that men are brutal, horrible. 
... Oh! (Hides her face in her 
hands.) 

Enter Mrs. Erlynne, L. 1 

Soliloquy when a character is left alone on the stage is a 
perfect illustration of the difference between permanent and 
ephemeral technique. As a device for easy exposition, it has 
been popular from the beginning of drama till recently. 
Now, though one may use it in a rough draft, a technique 
which is likely to become permanent in this respect forces 
us to go over this draft, cutting soliloquy to mere action and 
the few exclamations which the character might utter under 
the circumstances. Soliloquy has no such permanent place 
in technique as have preliminary exposition, suspense, and 
climax. Soliloquy, when other people are on the stage and 
known by the speaker to be listening is also absurd. It is 
because of this fact that the dramatic or psychologic mono- 
logue, the form taken by a very large portion of Browning's 
voluminous poetry, breaks down if we attempt to stage it. 
"Some speaker is made to reveal his character, and, some- 

1 Plays, vol. L J. W. Luce & Co., Boston. 



DIALOGUE 391 

< s, by reflection, or directly, the character of some one 

else — to set forth some subtle and complex soul-mood, some 

, all-determining movement or experience of a life, 

or, it may be, to ratiocinate subtly on some curious question 

beology, morals, philosophy, or art. Now it is in strictly 

lug the monologue character that obscurity often 

results. A monologue often begins with a startling abrupt- 

>, and the reader must read along some distance before 

gathers what the beginning means. Take the monologue 
of Fra Lippo Lippi for example. The situation is necessarily 
left more or less unexplained. The poet says nothing in 

E propria persona, and no reply is made to the speaker by the 
person or persons addressed. Sometimes a look, a gesture or 
a remark must be supposed on the part of the one addressed, 
which occasions a responsive remark. Sometimes a speaker 
imputes a question, and the reader is sometimes obliged to 
p and consider whether a question is imputed by the 
iker to the one he is addressing, or is a direct question 
of his own. This is often the case throughout The Ring and 
Book: 1 1 

Giuseppe Caponsacchi. Answer you, Sirs? Do I 
understand aright? 
Have patience! In this sudden smoke from hell, — 
So things disguise themselves, — I cannot see 
My own hand held thus broad before my face 
And know it again. Answer you? Then that means 
Tell over twice what I, the first time, told 
Six months ago: 'twas here, I do believe, 
Fronting you same three in this very room, 
I stood and told you: yet now no one laughs, 
Who then . . . nay, dear my lords, but laugh you did, 
As good as laugh, what in a judge we style 
Laughter — no levity, nothing indecorous, lords! 
Only, — I think I apprehend the mood: 
There was the blameless shrug, permissible smirk, 

1 Introduction to Browning, pp. 85-88. H. Coraon. D. C. Heath & Co. 



392 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

The pen's pretence at play with the pursed mouth, 

The titter stifled in the hollow palm 

Which rubbed the eyebrow and caressed the nose, 

When first I told my tale : they meant, you know, 

"The sly one, all this we are bound believe! 

"Well, he can say no other than what he says. 

"We have been young, too, — come, there's greater guilt! 

"Let him but decently disembroil himself, 

"Scramble from out the scrape nor move the mud, — - 

"W T e solid ones may risk a finger-stretch!" 

And now you sit as grave, stare as aghast 

As if I were a phantom: now 'tis — "Friend, 

"Collect yourself!" — no laughing matter more — 

"Counsel the Court in this extremity, 

"Tell us again!" — tell that, for telling which, 

I got the jocular piece of punishment, 

Was sent to lounge a little in the place 

Whence now of a sudden here you summon me 

To take the intelligence from just — your lips, 

You, Judge Tommati, who then tittered most, — 

That she I helped eight months since to escape 

Her husband, is retaken by the same 

Three days ago, if I have seized your sense. 1 






It may be true that when one reads a dramatic monologue, 
the changes in thought caused by some movement or look 
of an imagined hearer may seem sufficiently motivated. 
When, on the other hand, this monologue is staged, it be- 
comes exceedingly unreal because we feel that the second 
person would not be silent but would interrupt with ques- 
tion or comment. More than this, unless the listening actor 
changes from pose to pose with rapid plasticity, he will be- 
come stiff in attitude, thus making us conscious of him when 
we should be listening to the speaker. Increasing the num- 
ber of hearers does not relieve the situation, but merely in- 
creases the number of possible interrupters or of people who 
stand about the stage more and more stiffly. Soliloquy is, 

1 The Ring arid the Book. Robert Browning. Tauchnitz ed., vol. iv. Leipzig. 






DIALOGUE 393 

therefore, to be avoided except when it seems or can be 
com perfectly natural. Monologue, acceptable per- 
haps to a reader, becomes well-nigh impossible on the stage. 
The aside must be subjected to very nearly the same 
.In Two Loves and a Life of Tom Taylor and Charles 
le, Musgrave and his daughter, Anne, are opening let- 
Burreptitiously. They come to the letter of William 
Hyde, which the girl opens with reluctance, crying, — 

. father, it is a blank! 
rr. A blank! Then it is as I thought! 
How? 
Musgrave. Here, girl! 

(He takes the letter and holds it to the fire in the brazier.) 
r. See! Letters become visible! 
Musgrave. A stale trick. Tis done with lemon juice or milk, 
when folks would keep what they write from those who are in their 
I . Politicians correspond so, Anne, and rebels. 
Anne. But William Hyde is neither, father. 

grave. Of course not. Now then! 
Anne. (Aside.) Thank Heaven! 'tis all about his calling! 

is grave. Read! (Aside.) I have learned the key to their cypher, 
I have copied from the priest's letter. 
Anne. (Reads.) "Dear Will, we have thine advices, and shall 
be at Lancaster Fair. All the smart fellows — " 

Musgrave. (To himself.) Ah! Bardsea Hole — all the Jacobite 
gentlemen — good. 
Anne. (Reads.) "By the time the grilse come ashore — '* 
Musgrave. (To himself.) Grilse? ammunition. Go on. 

me. (Reads.) "Which shall be as you fix, on Tuesday the 
10th, at ten of the clock, p.m. There is a bill against you and the 
old clothier, payable at Ulverstone today, drawn by the butcher. 
! : out and see that he does not nab either of you — " 
Musgrave. (Aside.) The proclamation! 

.) "For your friends assembled. John Trusty." 
Musgrave. From Townley. It is as I suspected. 

(He starts up.) 
Anne. Father! 

;ravc. I'm a made man, Anne. Give me joy — joy! l 

1 Act u, Scene 2. Samuel French. New York. 



394 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

In this once popular drama we have five asides close to- 
gether, for of course "to himself" is the equivalent of an 
aside. All are bad, for in each case the other person on the 
stage must be supposed not to hear, and the aside is merely 
a device for telling us what the speaker is thinking. They 
vary in badness, however, for while Musgrave might well 
explain "grilse" to Anne as "ammunition," he says, "I 
have learned the key to their cipher, which I' have copied 
from the priest's letter," not as something which he is 
necessarily thinking at the time, but as something which 
the audience needs to know at this point. An aside is 
objectionable when a man speaks what he would be careful 
only to think, either because of the very nature of his 
thought or because somebody is near at hand who should 
not overhear. Asides should be kept for confidential re- 
marks which may be made to some person standing near 
the speaker, but could not be heard by persons standing at 
a greater distance; and to what naturally breaks from us 
in a moment of irritation, terror, or other strong emotion. 
Asides of the first group, confidential remarks, gain much 
in naturalness if spoken in half tones. Nothing could be 
more preposterous than the old stage custom of coming 
down to the footlights to tell an audience in clear-cut tones 
confidences which must not be overheard by people close 
at hand on the stage. Asides which are only brief solilo- 
quies are little better. Asides in which the speaker merely 
says to the audience what he might perfectly well say to the 
people on the stage are foolish unless the author wishes tc 
make the point that the character has the habit of talking 
to himself. The following from Vanbrugh's The Provoked 
Wife shows two entirely natural uses of the aside by Lady 
Brute, and one debatable use by Sir John. 



DIALOGUE 395 

ACT III. Scene opens. Sir John, Lady Brute, and Belinda rising 
from the Table 

Sir John. Will it so, Mrs. Pert? Now I believe it will so increase 
it, (sitting and smoaking) I shall take my own House for a Paper* 
mill. 

Lady Brute. (To Belinda aside.) Don't let's mind him; let him 
say what he will. 

Sir John. (Aside.) A Woman's Tongue a Cure for the Spleen — 
Oons — If a Man had got the Head-ach, they'd be for applying 
the same Remedy. 

Lady Brute. You have done a great deal, Belinda, since yes- 
Vnlay. 

Belinda. Yes, I have work'd very hard; how do you like it? 

Lady Brute. O, 'tis the prettiest Fringe in the World. Well, 
Cousin, you have the happiest fancy. Prithee advise me about 
altering my Crimson Petticoat. 

Sir John. A Pox o' your Petticoat; here's such a Prating, a Man 
can't digest his own Thoughts for you. 

Lady Brute. (Aside.) Don't answer him. — W 7 ell, what do you 
advise me? 

Belinda. Why really I would not alter it at all. Methinks 'tis 
very pretty as it is. 1 

Sir John's aside, if addressed to the audience, is bad; if 
meant to illustrate his habit of grumbling to himself, it is 
permissible. 

Mr. Henry Arthur Jones protests against complete disuse 
of the aside. "In discarding the 'aside' in modern drama 
we have thrown away a most valuable and, at times, a most 
necessary convention. Let any one glance at the 'asides' 
of Sir John Brute in The Provoked Wife, and he will see what 
a splendid instrument of rich comedy the 'aside' may be- 
come. How are we as spectators to know what one char- 
acter on the stage thinks of the situation and of the other 
characters, unless he tells us; or unless he conveys it by 
facial play and gestures which are the equivalent of an 

» PIay$, vol. u, pp. 150-51. J. Tonson. London, 1730. 



396 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

'aside'? The 'aside' is therefore as legitimate a convention 
of drama as the removal of the fourth wall. More and more 
the English modern drama seems to be sacrificing every- 
thing to the mean ambition of presenting an exact photo- 
graph of real life." 1 

Of course Mr. Jones is quite right in wishing to keep the 
aside for cases in which it is perfectly natural. His illustra- 
tion of Sir John Brute is, however, not wholly fortunate, for 
his asides are not conventional but are characterizing 
touches. Surely we must all admit that a certain type of 
drunkard likes to mumble to himself insulting speeches 
which he hasn't quite the courage to speak directly to other 
people, but rather hopes they may overhear. Study the 
asides of Sir John Brute — they are not very many after 
all — and note that practically every one might be said 
directly to the people on the stage. All of them help to 
present Sir John as the heavy drinker who talks to himself 
and selects for his speeches to himself his particularly in- 
sulting remarks. 

Why, too, are "facial play and gestures" more objection- 
able than the conventional aside? The fundamental trouble 
with the aside which should not be overheard by people on 
the stage is that, if spoken naturally, it would be too low 
for the audience to hear, and if spoken loud enough to be 
heard, would so affect the other characters as to change 
materially the development of the scene. The aside should, 
therefore, be used with great care. 

Congreve, writing of ordinary human speech said, "I 
believe if a poet should steal a dialogue of any length, from 
the extempore discourse of the two wittiest men upon earth, 
he would find the scene but coldly received by the town." 2 

1 The Foundations of a National Drama, p. 23. H. A. Jones. George H. Doran Company, 
New York. 

* Concerning Huwiour in Comedy. A Letter. European Theories of the Drama, pp. 213- 
214. Ed. B. H. Clark. Stewart and Kidd Co., Cincinnati. 



DIALOGUE 397 

In everyday speech, that is, we do not say our say in the 
most compact, characteristic, and entertaining fashion. To 
gain all that, we must use more concentration and selection 
than we give to ordinary human intercourse. Just that con- 
centration of attention, which produces needed selection, 
a dramatist must give his dialogue. To this concentration 
and selection he is forced by the time difficulty already 
explained. Into the period sometimes consumed by a single 
bit of gossiping, perhaps shot through with occasional 
flashes of wit, but more probably dull, — into the space of 
two hours and a quarter, — the dramatist must crowd all 
the happenings, the growth of his characters, and the close 
reasoning of his play. Dramatic dialogue is human speech 
so wisely edited for use under the conditions of the stage 
that far more quickly than under ordinary circumstances 
the events are presented, in character, and perhaps in a 
phrasing delightful of itself. 

Picking just the right words to convey with gesture, 
voice and the other stage aids of dialogue the emotions of 
the characters is so exacting a task that many a writer tries 
to dodge it. He thinks that by prefacing nearly every 
speech with "Tenderly," "Sarcastically," "With much 
humor," in other words a statement as to how his lines 
should be read, commonplace phrasings may be made to 
pass for the right emotional currency. This is a lazy trick 
of putting off on the actor what would be the delight of the 
writer if he really cared for his work and knew what he 
wished to say. Of course, from time to time one needs such 
stage directions, but the safest way is to insist, in early 
drafts, on making the text convey the desired emotion with- 
out such statements. Otherwise a writer easily falls into 
writing unemotionalized speeches, the stage directions of 
which call upon the actor to provide the emotion. 

A similar trick is to write incomplete sentences, usually 



398 



DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 



ending with dashes. Though it is true, as Carlyle long ago 
pointed out, that a thought or a climax which a reader of 
hearer completes for himself is likely to give him special 
satisfaction, the device is easily overdone, and too often the 
uncompleted line means either that the author does not 
know exactly what he wishes to say, or that, though he 
knows, the hearer or reader may not complete the thought 
as he does. The worst of this last trick is that it may con- 
fuse the reader and, as was explained earlier in this chapter, 
clearness in gaining the desired effect is the chief essential 
in dialogue. 

An allied difficulty comes from writing dialogue in blocks, 
the author forgetting, in the first place, that the other people 
on the stage are likely to interrupt and break up such speech, 
and secondly, that when several ideas are presented to an 
audience in the same speech, they are likely to confuse 
hearers. In these parallel passages from the two quartos of 
Hamlet, is not the right-hand column, with its mingling of 
rapidly exchanged speech and description, much more vivid 
and moving? 



Enter Ofelia; 
Corambis. Farewel, how now 
Ofelia, what's the news 
with you? 
Ofelia. O my deare father, 
such a change in nature, 
So great an alteration in a 

Prince, 
So pitifull to him, fearefull to 

mee, 
A maiden's eye ne're looked on. 
Corambis. Why, what's the 

matter my Ofelia? 
Ofelia. O yong Prince Ham- 
let, the only floure of 
Denmark, 



Enter Ophelia. 
Polonius. Farewell. How now 
Ophelia, what 's the matter? 
Ophelia. O my Lord, my 
Lord, I have been so af- 
frighted. 
Polonium. With what i'th 

name of God? 
Ophelia. My Lord, as I was 
sowing in my closset, 
Lord Hamlet with his doublet 

all unbrac'd, 
No hat upon his head, his stock- 
ins fouled, 
Ungartred, and downe gyved to 
his ancle, 



DIALOGUE 



399 



Hee is bereft of all the wealth lie 
bad, 

The Jewell that adorn \1 his fea- 
ture most 

Is filcht and stolne away, his 
wit's bereft him. 



Pale as his shirt, his knees 

km eking each other, 
And with a look so pittious in 

purport 
As if he had been loosed out 

of hell 
To speake of horrors, he comes 

before me. 
Polonius. Mad for thy love? 
Ophelia. My lord I doe not 

know, 
But truly I doe feare it. 
Polonius. What said he? 
Ophelia. He took me by the 

wrist, and held me hard, 
Then goes he to the length of 

all his arme, 
And with his other hand thus 

ore his brow, 
He falls to such perusall of my 

face 
As a would draw it. 1 

Is it probable that in the following extract from A Soul's 
Tragedy of Browning the deeply interested and excited audi- 
ence would permit the first bystander to complete uninter- 
rupted his third and very long speech? Are the phrasing 
and thought really his, or Robert Browning's? 

ACT II. Scene. The market place. Luitolfo in disguise mingling 
with the Populace assembled opposite the Provost's Palace. 

1st Bystander. (To Luitolfo.) You, a friend of Luitolfo's? Then, 
your friend is vanished, — in all probability killed on the night that 
his patron the tyrannical Provost was loyally suppressed here, 
exactly a month ago, by our illustrious fellow-citizen, thrice-noble 
saviour, and new Provost that is like to be, this very morning, — 
Chiappino! 



Luitolfo. (Aside.) (If I had not lent that man the money he 

1 The Devonshire HamleU, p. 28. 



4 oo DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

wanted last spring, I should fear this bitterness was attributable 
to me.) Luitolfo is dead then, one may conclude? 

3rd Bystander. Why, he had a house here, and a woman to whom 
he was affianced; and as they both pass naturally to the new Pro- 
vost, his friend and heir . . . 

Luitolfo. Ah, I suspected you of imposing upon me with your 
pleasantry! I know Chiappino better. 

1st Bystander. (Our friend has the bile. After all, I do not dis- 
like finding somebody vary a little this general gape of admiration 
at Chiappino's glorious qualities.) Pray, how much may you know 
of what has taken place in Faenza since that memorable night? 

Luitolfo. It is most to the purpose, that I know Chiappino to 
have been by profession a hater of that very office of Provost, you 
now charge him with proposing to accept. 

1st Bystander. Sir, I'll tell you. That night was indeed memor- 
able. Up we rose, a mass of us, men, women, children; out fled 
the guards with the body of the tyrant; we were to defy the 
world; but, next gray morning, "What will Rome say?" began 
everybody. You know we are governed by Ravenna, which is 
governed by Rome. And quietly into the town, by the Ravenna 
road, comes on muleback a portly personage, Ogniben by name, 
with the quality of Pontifical Legate; trots briskly through the 
streets humming a "Cur fremuere gentes," and makes directly for, 
the Provost's Palace — there it faces you. "One Messer Chiappino 
is your leader? I have known three-and-twenty leaders of revolts ! " 
(laughing gently to himself) — " Give me the help of your arm 
from my mule to yonder steps under the pillar — So ! And now, my 
revolters and good friend what do you want? The guards burst 
into Ravenna last night bearing your wounded Provost; and, hav- 
ing had a little talk with him, I take on myself to come and try 
appease the disorderliness, before Rome, hearing of it, resort to an- 
other method : 'tis I come, and not another, from a certain love I 
confess to, of composing differences. So, do you understand, you 
are about to experience this unheard-of tyranny from me, that 
there shall be no heading nor hanging, no confiscation nor exile: 
I insist on your simply pleasing yourselves. And, now, pray, 
what does please you? To live without any government at all? 
Or having decided for one, to see its minister murdered by the 
first of your body that chooses to find himself wronged, or disposed 
for reverting to first principles and a justice anterior to all institu- 
tions, — and so will you carry matters, that the rest of the world 



DIALOGUE 401 

must at length unite and put down such a den of wild beasts? As for 
vengeance on what had just taken place, — once for all, the wounded 
man assures me that he cannot conjecture who struck him; and 
tins so earnestly, that one may be sure he knows perfectly well what 
intimate acquaintance could find admission to speak with him 
late lasl evening. I come not for vengeance therefore, but from pure 
curiosity to hear what you will do next." And thus he ran on, 
easily and volubly, till he seemed to arrive quite naturally at the 
praise of law, order, and paternal government by somebody from 
rather a distance. All our citizens were in the snare and about to 
be friends with so congenial an adviser; but that Chiappino sud- 
denly stood forth, spoke out indignantly and set things right again. 
Luitolfo. Do you see? I recognize him there! 1 

People who think ramblingly and not clearly must un- 
doubtedly on the stage speak in similar fashion, but it is 
wise when possible to avoid stating two or three ideas in the 
same sentence, or developing two or three ideas in one long 
speech. An idea to a sentence, with the development of 
one thought in a speech, is a fairly safe principle, though 
not unalterable. For instance, the daughter of a widowed 
mother is facing the fact that if they are to stay in their 
meagre quarters she may have to ask this as a favor from 
her employer, Mr. Hollings. The mother, not knowing that 
he has pressed his attentions objectionably, does not under- 
stand the unwillingness of the girl to ask his help. In answer 
to her pleadings the girl cries, "Oh, I would do anything 
for you! Poor dear father! Mother, go to Mr. Hollings." 
Here are three different trains of thought in one speech. The 
first exclamation is a direct answer to the mother's preced- 
ing speech. For the audience there is no clearness of transi- 
tion to the second exclamation, nor from it to the third. Cut 
the girl's answer to the first sentence. Then the mother, 
seizing on the idea that her daughter is willing to do any- 
thing, urges her for this and that reason to see her em- 
ployer, emphasizing the idea that, had the father lived, all 

1 Belles-Lettres Series, pp. 271-273. A. Bate*, ed. D. C. Heath & Co., Boston. 



402 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

their present sorrow would not exist. In this case the second 
exclamation falls into its proper place, as a natural reply of 
the girl to her mother. If, too, as the mother urges reason 
after reason for going to the employer for aid, the girl at 
last pleads, "Mother, you go to Mr. Hollings," this sen- 
tence also falls into its proper place. It becomes the first 
sign of her yielding, for she is at last willing that some one 
should intercede with the man. When a writer finds himself 
skipping from idea to idea within a speech or a sentence, 
with transitions likely to be unclear for the audience, he 
should break what he has written into its component parts 
and let the other people on the stage, by their interruptions, 
queries, and comments, provide the connectives of speech 
and thought which will bind these ideas together properly. 
The following rearrangement by Miss Anglin of the original 
text of Lady Windermere 9 s Fan shows her correct feeling 
that ideas originally treated together should be separated. 
Lord Windermere's reply is to the first sentence of Mrs. 
Erlynne 's speech. It is therefore much clearer to shift her 
two succeeding exclamations to her next speech. 

ORIGINAL REVISION 

Mrs. Erlynne. (C.) How do Mrs. Erlynne. (C.) How do 
you do, again, Lord Winder- you do, again, Lord Winder- 
mere? How charming your mere? 

sweet wife looks! Quite a pic- Lord Windermere. (In a low 

ture! voice.) It was terribly rash of 

Lord Windermere. (In a low you to come! 

voice.) It was terribly rash of Mrs. Erlynne. (Smiling.) The 

you to come ! wisest thing I ever did in my life. 

Mrs. Erlynne. (Smiling.) The How charming your sweet wife 

wisest thing I ever did in my life, looks ! Quite a picture ! And by 

And, by the way, you must pay the way, you must pay me a 

me a good deal of attention this good deal of attention this 

evening . > evening . 

1 Flays of Oscar Wilde, vol. i, Lady Windermere's Fan. J. W. Luce & Co., Boston. 






DIALOGUE 403 



Often dialogue which is clear sentence by sentence is, as 
a whole, somewhat confusing to an audience. Frequently a 
careful re-ordering of the parts of the speech, or of a group 
of speeches, will dispose of the trouble. Occasionally a play- 
wright allows his ordering of his ideas to obscure the cue, or 
important idea. Undoubtedly the important word in what 
follows is "christenings," but Chasuble runs on into various 
other matters before Jack speaks. Consequently a hearer 
is a little startled when Jack takes up the idea of christen- 
ings instead of anything following it. 

Chasuble. In Paris! (Shakes his head.) I fear that hardly points 
to any very serious state of mind at the last. You would no doubt 
wish me to make some slight allusion to this tragic domestic afflic- 
tion next Sunday. (Jack presses his hand convulsively.) My ser- 
mon on the meaning of the manna in the wilderness can be adapted 
to almost any occasion, joyful, or, as in the present case, distress- 
ing. (.4// sigh.) I have preached it at harvest celebrations, christen- 
ings, confirmations, on days of humiliation and festal days. The 
last time I delivered it was in the Cathedral, as a charity sermon 
on behalf of the Society for the Prevention of Discontent among the 
Upper Orders. The Bishop, who was present, was much struck by 
some of the analogies I drew. 

Jack. Ah! That reminds me, you mentioned christenings I think, 
Dr. Chasuble? I suppose you know how to christen all right? 
(Dr. Chasuble looks astounded.) I mean, of course, you are continu- 
ally christening, aren't you? * 

It is true that the last part of Chasuble's speech illus- 
trates his volubility, and that the way in which Jack picks 
up the idea, "christening," shows that he is so absorbed 
in his purpose as to pay no attention to anything Chasuble 
says after "christenings." Here, therefore, the method is 
probably justified, but ordinarily the end of one speech leads 
into the next, and when something which breaks the se- 
quence stands between, it must prove its right to be there, 
or be postponed for later treatment, or be cut out altogether. 

1 Idem, vol. u. The Importance of Being Earnest. 



404 



DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 



What re-ordering will do for a dialogue which is unin- 
teresting and somewhat confused was shown in the revising 
of the extract from the John Brown play (pp. 309-313). 
There is a brilliant instance, in Miss Anglin's version of 
Lady Windermere *s Fan, of re-ordering such that a climax 
of interest develops from groups of somewhat independent 
sentences. 



ORIGINAL 

Lady Plymdale. My dear 
Margaret, what a fascinating 
woman your husband has been 
dancing with! I should be quite 
jealous if I were you! Is she a 
great friend of yours? 

Lady Windermere. No. 

Lady Plymdale. Really? Good 
night, dear. 

(Looks at Mr. Dumby, and 
exit.) 

Dumby. Awful manners young 
Hopper has! 

Cecil Graham. Ah! Hopper is 
one of Nature's gentlemen, the 
worst type of gentleman I know. 

Dumby. Sensible woman, 
Lady Windermere. Lots of wives 
would have objected to Mrs. Er- 
lynne coming. But Lady Win- 
dermere has that uncommon 
thing called common sense. 

Cecil Graham. And Winder- 
mere knows that nothing looks 
so like innocence as an indiscre- 
tion. 

Dumby. Yes; dear Winder- 
mere is becoming almost mod- 
ern. Never thought he would 



REVISION 

Dumby. Awful manners young 
Hopper has! 

Cecil Graham. Ah! Hopper is 
one of Nature's gentlemen, the 
worst type of gentleman I know. 

Lady Jedburgh. What a fas- 
cinating woman Mrs. Erlynne 
is! She is coming to lunch on 
Thursday, won't you come too? 
I expect the Bishop and dear 
Lady Merton. 

Lady Windermere. I am afraid 
I am engaged, Lady Jedburgh. 

Lady Jedburgh. So sorry. 
Good night. Come, dear. 

{Exeunt Lady Jedburgh and 
Miss Graham.) 

Dumby. Sensible woman, 
Lady Windermere. Lots of 
wives would have objected to 
Mrs. Erlynne coming. But 
Lady Windermere has th?t un- 
common thing called common 
sense. 

Cecil Graham. And Winder- 
mere knows that nothing looks 
so like innocence as an indiscre- 
tion. 

Dumby. Yes; dear Winder- 



DIALOGUE 



405 



(Boies to Lady Windermere 
ami cn't.) 
Lady Jidhurgh. Good night, 
Lady Windermere. What a fas- 
cinating woman Mrs. Erlynne 
is! She is coining to lunch on 
Thursday. Won't you come 
I expect the Bishop and 
dear Lady Mcrton. 

Lady Windermere. I am afraid 
I am engaged, Lady Jedburgh. 
Lady Jedburgh. So sorry. 
Come, dear. 

(Exeunt Lady Jedburgh and 

Miss Graham.) 

Enter Mrs. Erlynne and 

Lord Windermere. 

Mrs. Erlynne. Charming ball 

it has been! Quite reminds me 

of old days. (Sits on the sofa.) 1 



mere is becoming almost mod- 
ern. Never thought he would. 
Lady Plymdale. Dumby! 
(Dumby bows to Lady Win- 
dermere and exit.) 
Lady Plymdale. My dear 
Margaret, what a fascinating 
woman your husband has been 
dancing with! I should be quite 
jealous if I were you! Is she a 
great friend of yours? 
Lady Windermere. No! 
Lady Plymdale. Really? Good 
night, dear. 

(Lady Plymdale exits.) 

Enter Mrs. Erlynne and 

Lord Windermere. 

Mrs. Erlynne. Charming ball 

it has been! Quite reminds me 

of old days. (Sits on the sofa.) 



Dialogue may be both clear and characterizing yet fail 
because it is difficult to speak. Too many writers, as has 
been said, do not hear their words but see them. Could any 
one who heard his words have penned the lines," She says 
she's sure she'll have a shock if she sees him." That time 
"apt alliteration" was so artful that, setting her trap, she 
caught a dramatist. Here is the amusing comment of a 
critic on an author's protest that her lines have been mis- 
quoted and made to sound difficult to deliver: 

In the review of the Theatre's opening bill there occurred 

a line purporting to come from Miss Blank's psychic play, The 
Turtle. Miss Blank writes, "The line, which was either incorrectly 
spoken or heard, was not, 'How does one know one is one's self?' 
but ' How is one to know which is one's real self when one feels so 
different with different people?'" Naturally the reviewer of a play 
is as open to mistakes in noting down lines as the actor is in speak- 

1 Play qf Otcar Wilde, vol. 1. J. W. Luc* & Co., Boston. 



4o6 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

ing them, particularly if the author is much given to the "one-one- 
one" style of construction. If, however, Miss Blank prefers her 
own version of the sentence, she is welcome to it. 

Of course each writer is perfectly sure that his own ear 
will keep him from errors of this kind, but even the greatest 
err. Did Shakespeare write the opening lines of Measure For 
Measure, he the master of exquisitely musical and per- 
fectly chosen dramatic speech? Some scholars believe he 
did. If so, in that second speech of the Duke which wearies 
the jaws and tempts to every kind of slurring, Jove certainly 
nodded. 

Enter Duke, Escalus, Lords and Attendants 

Duke. Escalus! 

Escalus. My lord. 

Duke. Of government the properties to unfold, 
Would seem in me to affect speech and discourse, 
Since I am put to know that your own science 
Exceeds, in that, the lists of all advice 
My strength can give you: then no more remains, 
But that, to your sufficiency . . . 

... as your worth is able, 
And let them work. 

Are the following straight translations from the old French 
farce, Pierre Patelin, 1 as easy to speak as the revisions? 

TRANSLATION REVISION 

Guillemette. And don't forget Guillemette. And if any one 

your dram, if you can come by offers to stand treat, don't 
it for nothing. refuse. 

(Patelin is trying to cheat {Patelin is trying to cheat 

the Draper out of a piece the Draper out of a piece 

of cloth.) of cloth.) 

Patelin. I don't care: give Patelin. I don't care : give me 

me my money's worth. (Whis- my money's worth. (Whisper- 

1 Walter H. Baker Co., Boston. 



DIALOGUE 407 

pe ring in the Drapers ear.) I ing in the Draper's ear.) I know 
know <>f another coin or two of some chink — 
thai oobody ever got a smell of. 

Draper. Now you're talking! Draper. Now you're talking! 

That would he capital. 

Patelin. In a word, I am hot Patelin. (Letting his hand fall 

for this piece, and have some I on the goods.) This! 
must. 

The first revision certainly gives lines easier to speak. 
The writer of the second revision hears it and knows the 
ure, facial expression, and intonation which must go 
with "This!" Dialogue which is perfectly clear and char- 
acterizing should not be allowed to pass in the final revision 
if at any point it is unnecessarily difficult to deliver. 

From the preceding discussion it must be clear that the 
three essentials of dialogue are clearness, helping the on- 
ward movement of the story, and doing all this in charac- 
ter. Dialogue is, naturally, still better if it possesses charm, 
grace, wit, irony, or beauty of its own. Dialogue which 
merely states the facts is, as we have seen, likely to be dull 
or commonplace. Well characterized dialogue still falls 
short of all dialogue may be if it has none of the attributes 
just mentioned. Feeling this strongly, the dramatists 
throughout the ages have striven to give their dialogue 
attractiveness because of its style, forgetting that above all 
for the dramatist it is true that "style is the man," and that 
"style is a thinking out into language." Lyly, Shakespeare, 
in some of the scenes of his early plays, Kyd in The Spanish 
Tragedy, John Dryden in his Heroic Drama, Cibber and 
Lillo in their rhythmic prose which often might be perfectly 
well printed as blank verse, strove to decorate their dialogue 
from without — something sure to fail, either with the im- 
mediate audience or w r ith posterity. If the charm, the grace, 
the wit, the irony of the dialogue does not come from the 
characters speaking, that dialogue fails in what has been 



408 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

shown to be one of its chief essentials, right characterization. 
Congreve emphasized this in that classic of dramatic criti- 
cism, his letter Concerning Humour in Comedy. 1 "A char- 
acter of a splenetic and peevish humour should have a 
satirical wit. A jolly and sanguine humour should have a 
facetious wit. The former should speak positively; the 
latter, carelessly: for the former observes and shows things 
as they are; the latter rather overlooks nature, and speaks 
things as he would have them; and his wit and humour have 
both of them a less alloy of judgment than the others." Un- 
doubtedly, however, the dramatist may do much in helping 
a character to reveal these qualities, particularly beauty of 
thought or phrasing. It is a conventional use supposed to 
make for beauty which The Rehearsal ridicules in the fol- 
lowing scene, for at nearly all crises the Heroic Drama rested 
on a simile for its strongest effect. 

Prettyman. How strange a captive am I grown of late! 
Shall I accuse my love or blame my fate? 
My love I cannot; that is too divine: 
And against fate what mortal dares repine? 

Enter Chloris 

But here she comes. 

Sure 'tis some blazing comet! is it not? (Lies down.) 

Bayes. Blazing comet! Mark that; egad, very fine. 

Prettyman. But I am so surpris'd with sleep, I cannot speak the 
rest. (Sleeps.) 

Bayes. Does not that, now, surprise you, to fall asleep in the 
nick? His spirits exhale with the heat of his passion, and all that, 
and, swop, he falls asleep, as you see. Now, here she must make a 
simile. 

Smith. Where's the necessity of that, Mr. Bayes? 

Bayes. Because she's surprised. That's a general rule; you must 
ever make a simile when you're surprised; 'tis the new way of 
writing. 

1 Dramatic Works, vol. n, pp. 222-223. London, 1773. 



DIALOGUE 



409 



Chloris. As some tall pine which we on jEtna find 
T haw stood the rage of many • boist'roni wind, 
Peeling without thai flames within do play, 
Which would consume his root and sap away; 
I ; ■■■( -ads hifl worsted arms unto the skies: 
Bflently grieves, all pal**, repines, and di 

ihrouded up, your bright eye disappears. 
Break forth, bright scorching sun, and dry my tears. (Exit.) 

John. Mr. Bayes, methinks this simile wants a little application, 

too. 
Bayes. No faith ; for it alludes to passion, to consuming, to dying, 
and all that, which, you know, are the natural effects of an amour. 

(Act 11, sc. 3.) ■ 



Why is it that the citation from Shakespeare in the left- 
hand column is less satisfactory than that in the right-hand? 

York. To do that office of 

thine own good will 
Which tired majesty did make 

thee offer, 
The resignation of thy state and 

crown 



To Henry Bolingbroke. 

King Richard. Give me the 

crown. — Here cousin, seize 

the crown; 
Here, cousin, 
On this side my hand, and on 

that side thine. 
Now is this golden crown like a 

deep well 
That owes two buckets, filling 

one another, 
The emptier ever dancing in the 

air, 
The other down, unseen, and 

full of water. 
That bucket down and full of 

tears am I, 



Viola. If I did love you in my 
master's flame, 

With such a suffering, such a 
deadly life, 

In your denial I would find no 
sense, 

I would not understand it. 
Olivia. Why, what would 

you? 
Viola. Make me a willow 
cabin at your gate, 

And call upon my soul within 
the house; 

Write loyal cantons of con- 
temned love 

And sing them loud even in the 
dead of night; 

Halloo your name to the rever- 
berate hills 

And make the babbling gossip 
of the air 

Cry out " Olivia! " O, you should 
not rest 






1 Geo Villiers, Duke of Buckingham. Selected Drama* of John Dryden, with The Rehearsal, 
p. 399. G. R. Noycs. ed. Scott, Freeman & Co. 



410 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

Drinking my griefs, whilst you Between the elements of air and 

mount up on high. earth, 

Bolingbroke. I thought you But should pity me! 

had been willing to resign. Olivia. You might do much. 2 

King Richard. My crown I 

am; but still my griefs are 

mine. 
You may my glories and my 

state depose, 
But not my griefs; still I am 

king of those. 1 

The second extract is the more effective because the on- 
ward sweep of the emotion of the scene reveals beauty as it 
moves, but the first shows King Richard checking the course 
of his natural emotion in order suavely and perfectly to 
develop his comparison. Of course there is beauty in the 
first extract, but it is not genuine dramatic beauty. Why 
does one find the following passage from The Importance of 
Being Earnest (Act I), delightful as it is, less fine than the 
passage from The Way of the World (Act II, Scene 5) ? 

THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST 

Lady Bracknell. (Sitting down.) You can take a seat, Mr. Worth- 
ing. (Looks in her pocket for notebook and pencil.) 

Jack. Thank you, Lady Bracknell, I prefer standing. 

Lady Bracknell. (Pencil and notebook in hand.) I feel bound to 
tell you that you are not down on my list of eligible young men, 
although I have the same list as the dear Duchess of Bolton has. 
We work together, in fact. However, I am quite ready to enter 
your name, should your answers be what a really affectionate 
mother requires. Do you smoke? 

Jack. Well, yes, I must admit I smoke. 

Lady Bracknell. I am glad to hear it. A man should always have 
an occupation of some kind. There are far too many idle men in 
London as it is. How old are you? 

Jack. Twenty-nine. 

1 Richard the Second, Act iv, Scene 1. 2 Twelfth Night, Act i, Scene 5. 






DIALOGUE 411 

Lady Bracknell. A very good age to be married at. I have always 
been of opinion that a man who desires to get married should know 
Other everything or nothing. Which do you know? 

Jack. (After some hesitation.) I know nothing, Lady Bracknell. 

Lady Bracknell. I am pleased to hear it. I do not approve of 
anything that tempers with natural ignorance. Ignorance is like 
a delicate exotic fruit; touch it and the bloom is gone. The whole 
theory of modern education is radically unsound. Fortunately 
in Kn gland, at any rate, education produces no effect whatsoever. 
If it did, it would prove a serious danger to the upper classes, and 
probably lead to acts of violence in Grosvenor Square. What is 
your income? 

Jack. Between seven and eight thousand a year. 

Lady Bracknell. (Makes a note in her book.) In land or invest- 
ments? 

Jack. In investments, chiefly. 

Lady Bracknell. That is satisfactory. What between the duties 
expected of one during one's lifetime, and the duties exacted from 
one after one's death, land has ceased to be either a profit or a pleas- 
ure. It gives one position and prevents one from keeping it up. 
That's all that can be said about land. 

Jack. I have a country house with some land, of course, at- 
tached to it, about fifteen hundred acres, I believe; but I don't de- 
pend on that for my income. In fact, as far as I can make out, the 
poachers are the only people who are making anything out of it. 

Lady Bracknell. A country house! How many bedrooms? Well, 
that point can be cleared up afterwards. You have a town house, 
I hope? A girl with a simple unspoiled nature, like Gwendolen, 
could hardly be expected to reside in the country. 

Jack. Well, I own a house in Belgrave Square, but it is let by 
the year to Lady Bloxham. Of course, I can get it back whenever 
I like, at six months' notice. 

Lady Bracknell. Lady Bloxham? I don't know her. 

Jack. Oh, she goes about very little. She is a lady considerably 
advanced in years. 

Lady Bracknell. Ah, nowadays that is no guarantee of re- 
spectability of character. WTiat number in Belgrave Square? 

Jack. 149. 

Lady Bracknell. (Shaking her head.) The unfashionable side. I 
thought there was something. However, that could easily be 
altered. 



412 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

Jack. Do you mean the fashion or the side? 

Lady Bracknell. {Sternly.) Both, if necessary, I presume. What 
are your politics? 

Jack. Well, I'm afraid I really have none. I am a Liberal 
Unionist. 

Lady Bracknell. Oh, they count as Tories. They dine with us. 
Or come in the evening, at any rate. Now to minor matters. Are 
your parents living? 

Jack. I have lost both my parents. 

Lady Bracknell. Both? — That seems like carelessness. Who 
was your father? He was evidently a man of some wealth. Was he 
born in what the Radical papers call the purple of commerce, or 
did he rise from the ranks of the aristocracy? 

Jack. I'm afraid I really don't know. The fact is, Lady Brack- 
nell, I said I had lost my parents. It would be nearer the truth to 
say that my parents seem to have lost me — I don't actually 
know who I am by birth. I was — well, I was found. 

Lady Bracknell. Found! 

Jack. The late Mr. Thomas Cardew, an old gentleman of a very 
charitable and kindly disposition, found me and gave me the name 
of Worthing, because he happened to have a first-class ticket for 
Worthing at the time. Worthing is a place in Sussex. It is a sea- 
side resort. 

Lady Bracknell. Where did the gentleman who had a first-class 
ticket for this seaside resort find you? 

Jack. {Gravely.) In a hand-bag. 

Lady Bracknell. A hand-bag! 

Jack. {Very seriously.) Yes, Lady Bracknell. I was in a hand- 
bag — a somewhat large, black leather hand-bag, with handles 
to it — an ordinary hand-bag in fact. 

Lady Bracknell. In what locality did this Mr. James, or Thomas, 
Cardew come across this ordinary hand-bag? 

Jack. In the cloak-room at the Victoria Station. It was £iven 
to him in mistake for his own. 

Lady Bracknell. The cloak-room at Victoria Station? 

Jack. Yes, the Brighton line. 

Lady Bracknell. The line is immaterial. Mr. Worthing, I confess 
I feel somewhat bewildered by what you have just told me. To be 
born, or at any rate, bred in a hand-bag, whether it had handles 
or not, seems to me to display a contempt for the ordinary de- 
cencies of family life that remind one of the worst excesses of the 



DIALOGUE 413 

French Revolution. And I presume you know what that unfortu- 
movement led to? As for the particular locality in which the 
haml-bog was found, a cloak-room at a railway station might serve 
to conceal a social indiscretion — has probably, indeed, been used 
for that pur]x)se before now — but it could hardly be regarded as 
an assured basis for a recognized position in good society. 

Jack. May I ask you then what you would advise me to do? I 
need hardly say I would do anything in the world to ensure Gwen- 
dolen*! happiness. 

Lady Bracknell. I would strongly advise you, Mr. Worthing, to 
try and acquire some relations as soon as possible, and to make a 
definite effort to produce at any rate one parent, of either sex, be- 
fore the season is quite over. 

Jack. Well, I don't see how I could possibly manage to do that. 
I can produce the hand-bag at any moment. It is in my dressing- 
room at home. I really think that should satisfy you, Lady 
Bracknell. 

Lady Bracknell. Me, sir! What has it to do with me? You can 
hardly imagine that I and Lord Bracknell would dream of allowing 
our only daughter — a girl brought up with the utmost care — 
to marry into a cloak-room, and form an alliance with a parcel? 
Good morning, Mr. Worthing! 

(Lady Bracknell sweeps out in majestic indignation.) l 

THE WAY OF THE WORLD 

Enter Mrs. MiUamant, Witvxrud, Mincing 

Mirabell. Here she comes, i'faith, full sail, with her fan spread 
and streamers out, and a shoal of fools for tenders; ha, no, I cry 
her mercy, 

Mrs. Fainall. I see but one poor empty sculler; and he tows 
her woman after him. 

Mirabel!. (To Mrs. MiUamant.) You seem to be unattended, 
Madam — you us'd to have the beau monde throng after you; and 
a flock of gay fine perukes hovering round you. 

Witu-oud. Like moths about a candle, — I had like to have lost 
my comparison for want of breath. 

Mrs. MiUamant. Oh, I have denied myself airs today, I have 
walk'd as fast through the crowd — 

1 Play$qfOtcar Wilde, vol. 11. J. W. Luce & Co., Boston. 



4H DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

Witwoud. As a favourite just disgraced; and with as few follow- 
ers. 

Mrs. Millamant. Dear Mr. Witwoud, truce with your simili- 
tudes; for I am as sick of 'em — 

Witwoud. As a physician of good air — I cannot help it, Madam, 
though 'tis against myself. 

Mrs. MUlamard. Yet again! Mincing, stand between me and 
his wit. 

Witwoud. Do, Mrs. Mincing, like a screen before a great fire. I 
confess I do blaze today, I am too bright. 

Mrs. Fainall. But, dear Millamant, why were you so long? 

Mrs. Millamant. Long! Lord, have I not made violent haste? 
I have ask'd every living thing I met for you; I have enquir'd 
after you, as after a new fashion. 

Witwoud. Madam, truce with your similitudes — no, you met 
her husband, and did not ask him for her. 

Mrs. Millamant. By your leave, Witwoud, that were like en- 
quiring after an old fashion, to ask a husband for his wife. 

Witwoud. Hum, a hit, a hit, a palpable hit, I confess it. 

Mrs. Fainall. You were dress'd before I came abroad. 

Mrs. Millamant. Ay, that's true — but then I had — Mincing, 
what had I? why was I so long? 

Mincing. mem, your La'ship staid to peruse a pacquet of 
letters. 

Mrs. Millamant. 0, ay, letters — I had letters — I am perse- 
cuted with letters — I hate letters — nobody knows how to write 
letters, and yet one has 'em one does not know why — they serve 
one to pin up one's hair. 

Witwoud. Is that the way? Pray, Madam, do you pin up your 
hair with all your letters? I find I must keep copies. 

Mrs. Millamant. Only with those in verse, Mr. Witwoud, I 
never pin up my hair with prose. I think I try'd once, Mincing. 

Mincing. O mem, I shall never forget it. 

Mrs. Millamant. Ay, poor Mincing tift and tift all the morning. 

Mincing. 'Till I had the cramp in my fingers, I'll vow, mem. 
And all to no purpose. But when your Laship pins it up with 
poetry, it fits so pleasant the next day as anything, and is so pure 
and so crips. 

Witwoud. Indeed, so crips. 

Mincing. You're such a critic, Mr. Witwoud. 

Mrs. Millamant. Mirabell, did you take exceptions last night? 



DIALOGUE 415 

ay, and went away — 'now I think on't, I'm angry — no, now 

1 think on't Vm pleas'd — for I believe I gave you some pain. 
Mirabell. Does that please you? 

Mrs, Millamant. Infinitely; I love to give pain. 

Mirabell. Von wou'd affect a cruelty which is not in your nature; 
your true vanity is in the power of pleasing. 

Mrs. Millamant. O I ask your pardon for that — one's cruelty 
»nt Vs power; and when one parts with one's cruelty, one parts 
with one's power; and when one has parted with that, I fancy one's 
old and Ugly. 

Mirabell. Ay, ay, suffer your cruelty to ruin the object of your 
power, to (1 stroy your lover — and then how vain, how lost a 
thing you'll be! nay, 'tis true: you are no longer handsome when 
you've lost your lover; your beauty dies upon the instant; for 
beauty is the lover's gift; 'tis he bestows your charms — your glass 
is all a cheat. The ugly and the old, whom the looking-glass morti- 
fies, yet after commendation can be flatter'd by it, and discover 
beauties in it; for that reflects our praises rather than our face. 

Mrs. Milhunant. O the vanity of these men! Fainall, d'ye hear 
him? If they did not commend us, we were not handsome! now 
you must know they cou'd not commend one, if one was not hand- 
some. Beauty the lover's gift — Lord, what is a lover, that it can 
give? Why, one makes lovers as fast as one pleases, and they live 
as long as one pleases, and they die as soon as one pleases; and 
then if one pleases, one makes more. 

H'itwoud. Very pretty. Why, you make no more of making of 
lovers, Madam, than of making so many card-matches. 

Mrs. Millamant. One no more owes one's beauty to a lover than 
one's wit to an echo; they can but reflect what we look and say; vain 
empty tilings if we are silent or unseen, and want a being. 

Mirabell. Yet to those two vain empty things you owe the two 
greatest pleasures of your life. 

Mrs. Millamant. How so? 

Mirabell. To your lover you owe the pleasure of hearing your- 
selves prais'd ; and to an echo the pleasure of hearing yourselves talk. 

H'itwoud. But I know a lady that loves talking so incessantly, 
she won't give an echo fair play; she has that everlasting rotation 
of the tongue, that an echo must wait 'till she dies before it can 
catch her last words. 

Mf$. Millamant. O fiction! Fainall, let us leave these men. 1 

* Dramatic Workt 0/ William Congreve, vol. n. pp. 111-117. S. Crowder, London, 1773. 



416 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

Is not the dialogue of Congreve the finer because one feels 
in Wilde the ringmaster showing off his figures, and with 
Congreve is not conscious of the author at all? That is, the 
wit of the first passage is an assisted wit, edged, underscored, 
selectively phrased by a skilful author. In the second, 
everything springs seemingly unassisted from the characters. 
The range of accomplishment from obvious search for beauty 
in consciously made similes, through such relatively fine 
accomplishment as Wilde shows, to such perfect work as 
that of Congreve, should be carefully studied by the would- 
be dramatist. John Ford's wonderful lines 

Parthenophil is like to something I remember, 
A great while since, a long, long time ago 

hold the memory not merely because of the loveliness of 
their haunting melody, but because they are in character 
and help to portray the wistful bewilderment of the mo- 
ment. Why go far afield searching for the phrase that shall 
give charm, grace, beauty? Look into the souls of your 
characters and find them there. Either you haven't seen 
them or, not being there, they cannot properly appear in 
your text. Mr. W. B. Yeats tells of rehearsing a young 
actress who stumbled constantly over the line 

And then I looked up and saw you coming toward me, I know 
not whether from the north, the south, the east or the west. 

She gave it with no sense of its contained rhythm, and 
always came to a full stop after "toward me," adding the 
last words almost unwillingly. When asked why she did 
this, she said that all which followed seemed to her unneces- 
sary: the important fact was contained in what preceded. 
It took much rehearsing to make the young woman see that 
the music of the line is characteristic of the dales people, 
and so has characterizing value, and that she had totally 
forgotten the situation of the woman speaking. A peddler 



DIALOGUE 417 

has come to the only hut in a lonely valley. The woman wel- 
comes him heartily, not that she may buy, but because after 
days in which she has seen no one except her "man," she 
reedy for talk. Having bargained as long as she can, 
very regretfully she sees the man departing, and, other 
topics being exhausted, she tells him of her pleasure in his 
coming, spinning out her phrase as long as she possibly can 
in order to hold him. Out of that set of conditions springs 
a highly characterizing phrase that also has beauty. If 
Synge had done no more by his plays than to make us recog- 
nize in the speech of the peasant the characterizing power 
and the beauty for him who has "the eye to see and the ear 
to hear," his work would deserve permanent fame. He 
states his ideas in the preface to The Playboy of the Western 
World. 

In writing The Playboy of the Western World, as in my other plays, 
I have used one or two words only that I have not heard among the 
country people of Ireland, or spoken in my own nursery before I 
could read the newspapers. A certain number of the phrases I em- 
ploy I have heard also from herds and fishermen along the coast 
from Kerry to Mayo, or from beggar-women and ballad-singers 
near Dublin; and I am glad to acknowledge how much I owe to the 
folk-imagination of these fine people. Any one who has lived in 
red intimacy with the Irish peasantry will know that the wildest 
*ayings and ideas in this play are tame indeed, compared with the 
fancies one may hear in any little hillside cabin in Geesala, or Car- 
, or Dingle Bay. All art is a collaboration; and there is little 
doubt that in the happy ages of literature, striking and beautiful 
pi 1 rases were as ready to the story-teller's or the playwright's hand 
as the rich cloaks and dresses of his time. It is probable that 
when the Elizabethan dramatist took his ink-horn and sat down to 
hil work he used many phrases that he had just heard as he sat 
at dinner, from his mother or his children. In Ireland, those of us 
who know the people have the same privilege. When I was writing 
The Shadow of the Glen, some years ago, I got more aid than any 
learning could have given me from a chink in the floor of the old 
Wicklow house where I was staying, that let me hear what was 



418 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

being said by the servant girls in the kitchen. This matter, I think, 
is of importance for in countries where the imagination of the 
people, and the language they use, is rich and living, it is possible 
for a writer to be rich and copious in his words, and at the same time 
to give the reality, which is the root of all poetry, in a comprehen- 
sive and natural form. In the modern literature of towns, however, 
richness is found only in sonnets, or prose poems, or in one or two 
elaborate books that are far away from the profound and common 
interests of life. One has, on one side, Mallarme and Huysmans 
producing this literature; and on the other Ibsen and Zola dealing 
with the reality of life in joyless and pallid words. On the stage one 
must have reality, and one must have joy; and that is why the in- 
tellectual modern drama has failed, and people have grown sick of 
the false joy of the musical comedy, that has been given them in 
place of the rich joy found only in what is superb and wild in real- 
ity. In a good play every speech should be as fully flavoured as a 
nut or apple, and such speeches cannot be written by any one who 
works among people who have shut their lips on poetry. In Ireland, 
for a few years more, we have a popular imagination that is fiery 
and magnificent, and tender; so that those of us who wish to write 
start with a chance that is not given to writers in places where the 
springtime of the local life has been forgotten, and the harvest is a 
memory only, and the straw has been turned into bricks. 1 

As Ibsen says, "Style must conform to the degree of ideal- 
ity which pervades the representation." 

You are of opinion that the drama ought to have been written 
in verse, and that it would have gained by this. Here I must differ 
from you. The play is, as you must have observed, conceived in the 
most realistic style; the illusion I wished to produce was that of 
reality. I wished to produce the impression on the reader that what 
he was reading was something that had really happened. If I had 
employed verse I should have counteracted my own intention and 
prevented the accomplishment of the task I had set myself. The 
many ordinary, insignificant characters whom I have intentionally 
introduced into the play would have become indistinct, and indis- 
tinguishable from one another, if I had allowed all of them to speak 
in one and the same rhythmical measure. We are no longer living 
in the days of Shakespeare. Speaking generally, the style must 

1 J. W. Luce & Co., Boston. 



L DIALOGUE 419 

form to the deg ree ol ideality which pervades the representation. 
My new drama is do tragedy in the ancient acceptation; what I de- 
1 to depict were human beings, and therefore I would not let 
them talk "the language of the Gods." l 

The dramatist who would write dialogue of the highest 
order should have not only an inborn and highly trained 
feeling for the emotional significance of the material in 
hand; a fine feeling for characterization; ability to write 
dialogue which states facts in character; and the power to 
bring out whatever charm, grace, irony, wit, or other spe- 
cially attractive qualities his characters permit; also he 
should have, or develop, a strong feeling for the nicest use 
of language. Dumas fils said, "There should be something 
of the poet, the artist in words, in every dramatist." 

1 The Letter* qf Uenrik Ibsen, p. 269. Letter to Edmmnd Goaae, January 15, 1874. Fox, 
Duffield & Co., New York. 



CHAPTER IX 
MAKING A SCENARIO 

There is frequent and decided divergence of opinion among 
dramatists as to the value of a scenario, — the outline of a 
play which the dramatist purposes to write or has already 
written. Some dramatists very carefully prepare a detailed 
outline before they settle down to writing a play. Others, 
equally well-known on the stage assert: "I never think of 
mapping out in detail what I intend to write. When I begin, 
I may know only my central situation or little more than 
my main characters in broadest outline. I simply write and 
rewrite until the perfected manuscript lies before me." 
Another declares that although he has no scenario, he does 
use some notes. Showing these notes, — an accumulation 
of ideas as they have come to him from time to time, written 
anywhere on a single sheet without apparent order or form, 
— he asks triumphantly whether this can be called a scena- 
rio. Whatever the opinion of a dramatist as to the usual 
value to him of a scenario, he can hardly deny that there 
are times when it is very convenient to have a scenario of a 
play not yet completed. Plays sometimes have a curious, 
unexpected way of forcing themselves on the attention of a 
writer when his mind should be engrossed with another 
play. Ideas wholly irrelevant to the play in question keep 
surging into the dramatist's mind and drawing his attention 
from the subject in which he wishes to be interested. Often 
he can relieve his mind of this Banquo-like play, not by 
stopping to write it out in full, but by putting a careful out- 
line of it on paper and storing this away until such time as 
he has opportunity to work out the play from this scenario. 



SCENARIOS 421 

Or it may be that a dramatist sees that plays he has sub- 
mitted to some manager or actor are not attractive, but 
that some subject which as yet lies only half-formed in his 
mind finds, when mentioned, a ready response. Here is the 
best opportunity for use of a good scenario. Submit such 
to the actor or manager in question and even if a contract 
does not follow, the promise, "I will produce your play if it 
is as good as your scenario " is very likely to be made. Ad- 
mitting then, for the moment, that some dramatists believe 
they can get on equally well without a scenario as a prerequi- 
site for one of their plays, what are the main characteristics 
of a good scenario — this form of outline which some drama- 
tists have found very useful in their work? 

In the first place, the word "scenario" has been very 
carelessly used. It is often applied to as brief a set of notes 
as the following, intended by Ibsen merely to suggest to his 
correspondent in the broadest possible way the play which 
he thinks might be made from the poem which he has been 
discussing: 

Have you not noticed that you have in the division of your 
poem entitled, A Norwegian Sculptor, the subject for a five-act 
popular play (Folkeskuespil) ? Act 1. In the Mountains. The 
wood-carver. The art-enthusiast from the capital discovers him and 
takes him away with him. Act 2. In Christiania. The boy the 
hero of the day; great hopes; sent to Rome. Act. 3. In Rome. Life 
there among the artists and the Italian lower class. Act 4. Many 
years later. Return to Christiania; forgotten; everything changed. 
Act 5. At home again in the mountain parish; ruin. Write this with 
songs and dances and popular costumes and irony and devilry. 1 . . . 

In the following from Little Stories of New Plays we 
have a far better summary than in the instance just cited, 
but surely even this is an outline and not a dramatic 
scenario, for intentionally it does not convey to a reader 

1 Letters qf Henrik Ibten, p. Si5. For a similar outline see that on Fatte, p. 151. 



422 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

just that for which he would go to the theatre, the emo- 
tional treatment of the scenes — here given only in the 
merest outline. 

GENERAL JOHN REGAN 

By George A. Birmingham 

Characters 

Dr. Lucius y Grady. Constable Moriarity, R.I.C. 

Timothy Doyle. Tom Kerrigan, bandmaster. 

Major Ken. Rev. Father McCormack. 

Thaddeus Golligher. Lord Alfred Blakeney. 

Horace P. Billing, Mrs. de Courvy. 
C. Gregg, district inspector. Mrs. Gregg. 

Sergeant Colgan, R.I.C. Mary Ellen. 

Into Ballymoy, a sleepy little town in the west of Ireland, comes 
Horace P. Billing, one gentle summer day, and spins in the market 
place a tale of a certain General John Regan, who, he said, these many 
years agone had been born and had sailed from Ballymoy to free the 
oppressed people of Bolivia, and who was the great national hero of 
that Republic from that time to the present day. 

Comes there to listen to his tale one Doctor Lucius 0' Grady, whose 
nose can no more keep out of other people's business than can his busy 
brain refrain from all manner of schemings or his tongue from utter- 
ing the grandest, gloriousest, whooping lies that the mouth of man 
e'er uttered. 

To the American tourist he unreels anecdote and episode dealing 
with tlie romantic life of the great General while he had been yet a boy 
in Ballymoy. He sends Golligher, the editor of the Connaught Eagle, 
to show the American gentleman the birthplace of the General, a broken 
down cow-shed, in a nearby field. 

The American leaves Ballymoy wildly excited and fermenting under 
the constant nagging of the doctor's busy self and never resting tongue, 
and promises that he will be back in a few days, and that in the mean- 
time, should the citizens of Ballymoy have enough patriotism in them 
to erect a statue of their great townie in the market place, he would 
contribute a hundred pounds towards it. 

This sets the Doctor at work with even more {if possible) vim. He 
gets Doyle to promise to contribute ten pounds, the parish priest 



SCENARIOS 423 

{though it nearly break* the good father's heart) ten also, Major Kent, 
nl landlord, another ten, and keep* the list himself — explaining 
that it is not necessary for him to put himself down for anything for that 
m. 

It develops thai Doyle has a nephew in Dublin who is a mortuary 
sculptor, and has a statue of some deceased citizen on hand which 
WOi never paid for. This statue Doyle's nephew agrees to sell to 
Bull ymoy for some eighty-odd pounds. The Doctor arranges to buy it, 
thus figuring that there will be a balance of twenty pounds out of the 
American's contribution to divide among themselves. This pleases 
Doyle, Father McCormack, and Golligher (who form the statue com- 
mittee) very much; but unfortunately, it develops also that Doyle has 
neglected to get the money from the American for the statue before he 
left. 

This does not stump the Doctor in the least, however. Among his 
plans for the unveiling of the statue is the appearance of Mary Ellen, 
tfie servant in Doyle's hotel, as a green fairy, and the appearance of the 
Lord Lieutenant of Ireland to make a speech. He suggests that when 
the Lord Lieutenant appears, they ask him for five hundred pounds for 
a pier — as the town already has but five or six piers — and that the 
money for the statue be taken out of thai. The Major objects to this, 
but tlie Doctor's ability to explain does not desert him, and the Major 
is satisfied. 

The great day of the unveiling finally arrives. The statue from the 
mortuary sculptor in Dublin is standing in the market place, with a 
rcil over it. A letter comes from the Lord Lieutenant to the effect that 
he has never heard of General John Regan, can find no record of him in 
any history of any country on the globe, and, in the person of his aide 
de camp, Lord Al Blakeney, protests and accuses Ballymoy of having 
put a hoax over on him and all that sort of bally rot, by Jove. 

The Doctor rises to the occasion beautifully. The aide de camp is 
made to make a speech as a representative of the Lord Lieutenant, and 
Mary Ellen unveils the statue, disclosing a hideous caricature of a 
grinning dead man in an ill-fitting business suit. 

At that moment the American appears, explains grandly that 
there is no such man as General John Regan, and says that if the Doc- 
tor can prove to him that the General is not a fiction he himself will give 
the five hundred pounds for the pier — as, he says, "the show is worth 
it!" 

The Doctor merely asks the American to prove to the satisfaction of 
the assembled townsfolk that the General does not exist. 



424 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

Billing gives it up and writes out a check to the Doctor's order for 
five hundred pounds, while the Doctor poses grandly before the cheers 
of the assembled and admiring populace of Ballymoy. 1 

Here, too, is an outline which led to a very dramatic ser- 
mon. Obviously it is a satisfactory summary of the story 
underlying the sermon, but just what it would give a reader, 
if it were a perfect scenario, is lacking — namely, suggestion 
of the emotional treatment of the scenes which is to make 
them worth the manager's or actor's producing: 

AT THE TOP OF THE TENEMENT 

The arrangement of the platform will suggest the bare condition of 
the home in the first part of the sermon, and in the second part will 
show ilie improved condition a year later. 

PART I 

Dan Howard comes home discouraged. He cannot get work. Christ- 
mas is approaching. His wife keeps his courage up and that of the 
family. The Minister calls and is not received kindly by Dan Howard, 
who does not believe in the church. He promises to get Dan work and 
thus proves himself a true friend in need. Misfortune has come to 
the home. The oldest boy is drinking and the next son has been arrested 
for theft. Things looks very black. It is Christmas eve and the father 
compels the children to go to bed. He tells them Santa Claus will not 
come to-night. But they hang up their stockings by the fireplace. 

PART II 

A year later. Things have changed. The home is better. AU are 
happy tonight. The father has had steady work and so they are to 
have a good Christmas this year. The boys are doing well. The family 
all go to church now and it has made a difference in them all. The child- 
ren have gone to bed with joy tonight. Dan Howard tells his wife what 
a help she has been to him through thick and thin. While they stand 
talking they hear the carol singers from the church, singing outside 
their home. The Minister comes in and is made very welcome. While 
they exchange greetings the Christmas Carol is sung and the beautiful 
illuminated star shines out in the night. 

1 The Green Book Magazine, February, 1914. 



SCENARIOS 425 

The following may be full of dramatic suggestion for its 
writer, but if we mean by scenario a document which, when 
handed to a manager or actor, is to arouse his enthusiasm 
because it tells him interestingly just what a proposed play 
will do, this is not a scenario at all. 

THE ETERNAL TRIANGLE: A NIGHTMARE 

[Diagram of stage] 

Dramatis Persona? 

Sylvia Macshane, the actress. 

Norman Pritchard, the manager. 

Laddie Benton, the poet. 

The Imp, sentinel at Ventilator X-10, Hell. 

SCENE: Room in a well-furnished apartment, New York City. 
Large round-topped window back right, matched by large semicircular 
mirror over fireplace back left. Mirror space later serves as Ventilator 
X-10. 

SCENARIO 

/. Curtain rises on crimson sunset in room of apartment. 
A dress and Manager in jealous love scene. 
Enter the bone of contention — the Poet. 
Quarrel scene — Poet crushed. 
By accident Actress drinks Poet's suicide potion. 
Poet strangles Manager, Actress smashes chair on Poet. 
The lamp is knocked over. 
Black darkness accompanied by shrieks. 
II. In red glow of semi-circular opening appear Imp and two 
M utes. 
Humorous talk of their job, guarding this ventilator of Hell. 
The Poet's face appears, followed by Manager's and Actress*. 
Both Heaven and Hell have refused them admission. 
Explanations by Imp — they are not truly dead. 
Renewed quarrels — Actress shows she loves neither one. 
She returns to earth. 
They pursue her. 
Imp is ordered to close ventilator. 
Black darkness again. 



426 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

7/7. Moonlight in the apartment. 

Actress, Poet, and Manager where they fell on the floor. 
They arouse — each believes the others ghosts. 
Explanations — light; — the men's quarrel renewed and 

dropped forever. 
Poet and Manager plan to make a play of the nightmare. 
Actress is wildly jealous of their new-found friendship. 
She cajoles each — then quarrels ferociously with each. 
They are proof against her and prepare to go. 
She demands a part in the play, gets it, and stamps off to her 

room. 
Poet and Manager depart cheerily planning. 

Obviously General John Regan is offered not as a sce- 
nario, but a summary. All the other so-called "scenarios" 
are planned only to suggest to the writer or somebody fully 
acquainted with the content of his mind on the subject what, 
in broadest terms, may be done with the material. They 
are all too broadly referential, too vague, to be of real use 
to a manager or actor looking for a play to produce. 

What, then, is the work a real scenario should do? It must 
show clearly just what is the story, slight or complicated, 
which the play is to present. It must make the reader under- 
stand who the people of the play are, their relations to one 
another, and anything in their past or present history which 
he must know if the play at the outset or in its course is to 
produce upon him the effect desired by the writer. It must 
tell him where the play takes place — that is, what the set- 
tings are, and in such a way as to create atmosphere if any- 
thing more than a mere suggestion of background is desir- 
able. It must let the reader see into how many acts the 
play will break up, and into what scenes if there be more 
than one setting to an act. Above all, it must make per- 
fectly clear what is the nature of the play — comedy, trag- 
edy, tragi-comedy, farce, or melodrama, and whether it 
merely tells a story, is a character study, a play of ideas, a 



SCENARIOS 427 

problem play, or a fantasy. Proportioning and emphasis as 
a I ready explained in chapters V and VI will, if rightly under- 
!, bring out correctly in a scenario all these matters of 
form and purpose. 

A good scenario begins with a list of the dramatis per- 
sons, that is, a statement of the names and, broadly, the 
relations of the characters to one another. If the ages are 
important, they may be given. Without a list of dramatis 
nna a reader must go far into the scenario before he can 
decide who the people are and what are their relations to 
one another. As the following scenario shows, he may 
easily guess wrong and is sure to be uncertain: 

SCENARIO. As the curtain rises Nat is seated at the right of cen- 
tre table, planning an attack upon a fort of blocks with an army of 
wooden soldiers. A drum lies on the floor beside him. Enter Benny, 
a bag over hi* shoulder. They salute each other and throughout use 
frequent military terms in their talk. Benny has just returned from 
the village and he gives an account of his trip and his purchases. Men- 
tion is made of the probable war with Spain. Benny then surprises 
Xat icith a letter from Harold, which proves to contain an announce- 
ment that war has been declared and that Harold has enlisted. The 
two are proud and delighted at the thought of their hero. They recall 
his former discontent on the farm, the day of his departure to seek his 
fortune in the city, his statement that he was "no soldier 1 * — now so 
gloriously disproved. Harold enters in the midst of their preparations 
for dinner. He is gaunt and shabby and has a nervous hunted air. 
He receives their plaudits sullenly. He explains that he is away on a 
week's furlough and answers their questions concerning the regiment 
and his plans with nervous impatience. . . . 

In this next so-called scenario who is Professor Ward? 
What is his relation to Phronie? What is her age? What is 
the age of Keith Sanford and what are the relations of each 
of these to Professor Ward himself? A good list of dramatis 
persona; would clear all this at once. 



428 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

THE EYES OF THE BLIND 
ACT I 

Professor Ward, roused at daybreak after a night at his desk, show* 
intense disappointment and nervous fatigue. 

In brief scene with Phronie, he shows the essential part she plays 
in his life as one on whom he can absolutely depend; but when he ex- 
presses his disapproval of her admirer, Keith Sanford, she shows clear 
signs of rebellious spirit. 

In rapid scene with Phronie and Keith, their spirit of youthful 
romance is made clear; and Keith indicates his college ambition, his 
predicament regarding his "cribbed" thesis, and his new attitude 
therein, ending with his evident resolve to make a clean breast of the 
matter. . . . 

There follows a scenario which is somewhat clearer than 
the others because it identifies the figures, but it certainly 
leaves their relations rather confused. 

An old white-haired man, the Sire de Maletroit, is seated in the 
chair to right of fireplace, in a listening attitude. The sound of a 
heavy door banging is heard and a minute later a young man, sword in 
hand, parts the curtains on left and stands blinking in the opening. 
He enters and explains that he has accidentally gained entrance to the 
house and is unable to re-open the door. His name is Denis de Beau- 
lieu. He seems amazed to have the old man say that he has been wait- 
ing for him. Denis suggests that he must be going, at which the old 
man bursts into a fit of laughter. Denis is insulted and offers to hew 
the Maletroifs door to pieces. He is convinced that this is folly ; the 
place is full of armed men. The old man rises, goes to door on right 
and calls upon his niece to leave her prayers and receive her lover. She 
comes in attended by a priest and protests that this is not the man. The 
uncle is incredulous and withdraws with a leer. 

Again a good list of dramatis persona? would be helpful. 
Prefix to this the following: 



SCENARIOS 429 

THE SIRE DE MALETROIT'S DOOR 

Place: Chateau Landon. 
Time: Fourteenth century. 

Dramatis Persona 

Blanche, orphan niece of Sire de Maletroit. 
A Priest, chaplain to Sire de Maletroit. 
The Sire de Maletroit. 
Denis de Beaulieu, a stranger. 

With this prefixed we can read the scenario just quoted 
for more comprehendingly. 

Note how clearly the following two lists of dramatis per- 
sona? take us to the scenario proper: 

THE LEGACY 

The Persons 

David Price, a young attorney. 
Reene Brice, his uncle. 
Benjamin Doyle, his fiancee's father. 
Dr. Wangren, family physician. 
Mrs. Brice, the mother. 
"Ditto" Brice, the sister. 
Katherine Doyle, fiancie. 

THE CAPTAIN: A MELODRAMA 

Dramatis Person® 

Captain La Rue, a little sea captain. 

Bromley Barnes, former special investigator for the U.S. customs 

service. 
Patrick Clancy, his friend. 
A burly Butler. 
John Felspar, junior partner of the firm of Felspar & Felspar, wine 

merchants. 
Two Dinner Guests, members of the firm. 
Carl Cozzens, the firm* s Canadian representative. 



430 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

It is easy, however, to let this list of characters go too far 
descriptively. For instance, this next list tells much which 
might better appear first in the body of the scenario. The 
danger here is one already mentioned in this book, namely, 
that such careful characterizing in the dramatis persona? or 
program is likely to make the characterization of the 
scenario or play inadequate. 1 

AN ENCORE 
Adapted from the story by Margaret Deland 
In Two Acts 

Time: About 1830 in June. 
Place: Little town of Old Chester. 
Between the first and second acts three weeks elapse. 

Dramatis Persona; 

Captain Price: Retired sea-captain, big, bluff, and hearty, with 
white hair and big white mustachios, rather untidy as to dress. Age, 
about 68. 

Cyrus Price: His son, weak and neat-looking, very thin and of 
sandy complexion. Age, about 35. 

Mrs. North: Sprigfitly, pretty, white-haired little lady of about 65. 
Always in black silk. 

Miss North: Her daughter, nervous and shy, but truthful with a 
mania for taking care of her mother and no knowledge of how to wear 
her clothes; about hO. 

Mrs. Gussie Price: A stout, colorless blond, a weeping, vividly 
gowned lady, who rules her husband, Cyrus, through her tears. Age, 
about 30. 

Flora: A colored maid. 

The danger is shown to the utmost in the following. The 
characterization in the scenario to which this was prefixed 
was practically nil. 

Forsythe Savile: A young lawyer of about thirty, clever, and rather 
versatile. While of great promise in his profession, he is not at all 

1 See pp. 276-278. 



SCENARIOS 431 

pedantic, but has many interests. He is well-read, widely travelled, 
fond of outdoor sports, and is very popular. Perhaps his most promi- 
nent characteristic is his ready wit. He is rarely non-plussed, and 
while quick' and pointed in his remarks, is yet not ill-natured with 
them. He has been Dennings' most intimate friend ever since they 
were in college together, although their lives lie along very divergent 
lines. 

Richard Dennings: A globe trotter, as a hunter, explorer, and war- 
orrcsporulcnt. He is clever and able, with a tendency to act on impulse 
rather than after deliberation. He is the closest kind of friend to For- 
sythe. He has been engaged to Frances Langdon, but the engagement has 
been broken off. This last fact is not Icnoun to any save the two them- 
selves. 

Judge Savile: A widower, and Forsythe' s father. He has been a very 
successful man, and holds a high place in his profession. He is de- 
voted to books, and cannot understand his son's taste for out-of-door life, 
and athletics in general. He philosophically accepts the inevitable, 
however, and is very proud of Forsythe. The Judge does not approve 
of the engagement of Frances Langdon to Dennings; he cannot under- 
stand Dennings' uncertain methods of life. The Judge while saying 
very little of his opinion foresees that matters are very far from being 
finally settled, and is quietly awaiting developments. 

Margaret Savile: Forsythe's younger sister, and a feminine edition 
of him. She is very pretty, bright, and attractive. She and Forsythe 
are most intimate, more so than brother and sister usually are. 

Frances Langdon: An intimate friend of Margaret, and familiarly 
known as "Frank." She is essentially feminine, attractive, witty and 
talented. She is very nervous and high-strung — a strong character, 
but susceptible to her feelings. She has known the Saviles since she 
was a child and is considered exactly as a relative. She has broken her 
engagement to Richard Dennings. 

A butler: The usual English type. 

That list tells so much about the characters that the 
scenario proper could do little but repeat. The writer, 
troubled by his sense of repetition, rested for his characteri- 
zation on the slight chance that a reader would remember 
every detail of the dramatis persona?. All that a reader needs 
to know at the outset of a scenario is who the characters 
are, and, in the broadest way, their relations to one another. 



432 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

A list of dramatis persona? should be followed with a 
statement of the time and place if they are important, and 
of the settings for all the acts. A detailed description of each 
new setting should precede its scene or act. * In the scenarios 
already quoted notice how difficult it is to place the char- 
acters as far as setting is concerned and how much would be 
gained if a good description of the setting were added. Keep 
the description of a setting to essentials, that is, furniture 
and decorations necessary to give requisite atmosphere or 
required in the action of the piece. As always in scenarios 
and acting editions use "left" and "right" as "left" and 
"right" of the actor, not of the audience. 

THE SIRE DE MALETROITS DOOR (See p. 428) 

SCENE : A large room in the house of the Sire de Maletroit; large 
fireplace at centre back; curtained door on left leads to stairway; cur- 
tained door right leads to chapel. The room is well illuminated by 
candles, reflecting the polish of stone walls. It is scantily furnished. 

THE LEGACY (See p. 464) 

THE SCENE: The Brice living-room comfortably furnished in 
walnut. A piano centre L., a round table, rear R. Four entrances: 
upper L., rear centre, upper right, right centre. Curtained windows 
rear R. & L. 

As has already been pointed out earlier in this book, it is 
wholly unwise to call, in a description of a setting, for details 
not really necessary. Here is the setting for the dramatis 
personal quoted on p. 431. It is over-elaborate because the 
action of the proposed play involves use of hardly any of 
the properties called for. 

SCENE: Forsythe Savile's "den. 1 * It is an odd room, a curious 
mixture of library, smoking-room, and museum. On the right is a 
large fireplace, over which are hung an elk's head, a couple of rifles, 

1 See Kismet Scenario, pp. 474-507. 



SCENARIOS 433 

queer-looking Eastern weapons, and other sporting trophies and evi- 
>s of travel. The room is panelled in dark oak; low bookcases 
lint- the walls, and on top of the cases are small bronzes, photographs, 
strange bits of bric-d-brac, and a medley of things, — such truck as a 
man with cultivated tastes would insist on accumulating. There are 
numerous pictures, a ratfier heterogeneous lot; valuable engravings, — 
portraits of famous lights of the bench and the bar, to judge by their 
wigs, — a few oils of the Meissonier type; and others which are ob- 
viously relics of college, with medals slung across them by brightly col- 
oured ribbons. The furniture of the room is of heavy oak, upholstered 
in dull crimson leather. Capacious club armchairs are in convenient 
places, near lamps and books. Around the hearth is a high English 
fender, and before it is a great Davenport sofa. On the left, is a broad- 
topped table-desk, covered with papers and books, and bearing a squat 
bronze lamp with a crimson shade. At one end of the Davenport is a 
low cabinet, on which are glasses and decanters. There is a wide door- 
way at the back of the stage which gives the only entrance and is hung 
with heavy crimson portieres. The centre of the floor is filled by a huge 
polar bear-skin rug, with massive head and the odd spaces are covered 
by smaller fur rugs. The stage is dark, save for the uneertain y wavering 
light cast by the wood fire. 

Time: The present, and about half-past eight on a winter evening. 

A sketch of the desired arrangement of the stage should 
be prefixed to the description of the setting. This may be 
as simple as comports with clear picturing of the exact con- 
ditions required. Such drawings not only help to clearness, 
they sometimes bring out difficulties in a proposed setting 
not at once evident in a description. Perhaps the staging 
called for in what immediately follows may not seem over- 
elaborate in the reading. A diagram at once shows its awk- 
wardness, expensiveness, and undesirability. 

THE SIRE DE MALETROIT'S DOOR 

The scene represents a mediaeval mder hall of a powerful nobleman 
of Paris with the approach thereto, the streets adjacent and several 
other buildings thereon, at 11.80 p.m., th-e streets in semi-darkness. 
This hall runs clear down the stage to within tlis width of a narrow 



434 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

street of the footlights. This street is supposed to run clear across the 
stage. The approach to the hall from without is through two doors 
left which open into a gloomy passageway large enough to contain 
a dozen soldiers. The door to the left of these two entrances opens in- 
ward from the street running up left at rigid angles to the street by 
the footlights, leaving room enough at the extreme left for several door- 
ways which should be set into the houses so as to form a place sufficient 
to hide a man who was being searched for on the sidewalk. At the ex- 
treme rear of the street going up the stage is stone pavement. The walls 
of the palace are of thick stones and the furnishings of the hall are 
plain and gloomy consisting of chairs and a table, a tall clock with 
a loud tick, curtains at the doors; and over the fireplace, which is 
huge, hang a shield and helmet, the former emblazoned with the device 
of tlie family, the latter beplumed, while under them are two long 
swords, crossed, with their points hidden behind the shield, these 
blades both in their scabbards. The floors are all of stone. 

At the right of the fireplace are two wide doors which when opened 
give a full view of the chapel beyond, with the altar to the rear in the 
centre. The chapel need show no more than a private altar, the accom- 
panying candles, drapery, and steps, lighted with a single hanging 
lamp of the period that swings before the first step of the altar. 

TJie cliairs and table in the hall are of mission style. The doors 
opening on the street from all of the establishments are very wide, 
embossed in iron bands and supplied with knockers, heavy bolts and 
bars on the inside wherever the inside is exposed. There is a large fire 
in the fireplace. A lamp of the period is swung with heavy chains over 
the table. 

The diagram on the next page shows how this would 
look. 

It is in many ways a bad setting. Waiving all question 
whether any attempt to suggest the fourth wall of a room, 
as in The Passing of the Third Floor Back by the fireplace 
at centre front of stage is wise, surely there can be no doubt 
that to ask an audience to imagine a street between them 
and the room into which they are looking, particularly 
when no necessary action takes place in that street, is 
undesirable. Therefore the suggested "street" across the 
front of the stage may go. Where is the value of the street 



436 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

at the side? Little, if any, action in it will be seen except by 
the very small part of the audience directly in line with it. 
For these the settings below the doors at stage left must be 
decidedly pushed back or they will lose important action by 
4he fireplace. It is questionable, too, whether the fireplace 
should not be moved down stage to one side or the other, 
so important is the facial expression of the Sire de Male- 
troit as he sits by it. For effective action, it is better, also, 
to separate fireplace and chapel entrance. It is both easy 
and for acting purposes better, to stage this proposed play 
with a setting as simple as this: 



Chapel Backing 
lAlUr I 



A 



V -9/ I 



Corridor I lfele| O 

Door ; 



[ 




Gothic stone interior: Doors, centre leading to Chapel or Oratory; 
lower right and up left. All doors with old tapestry curtains. Deep 
mullioned window up right with landscape backing. Large Gothic 
fireplace, with hooded chimney, left. Corridor backings for all doors. 
Large armchair left centre in front of fireplace; large oak table right 
centre, with chairs on either side; other furniture of period to dress 
stage. Altar and furnishings for Chapel. 

Nowadays descriptions of settings are noticeably free 
from the mystic R.U.E., L. 2 E., D.L.C., etc., which char- 
acterized stage directions of the early Victorian period. 
When wings and flats, as in some wood-scenes today, were 



TV3.E 



SCENARIOS 437 

used for indoor as well as outdoor scenes — that is, before 
the coming of the box-set — the stage was divided in this 
way: 

Wt CD. DtL.C. 

itue L.U.E. 

/ \ 

L.3. E. 
/ \ 

K.I.E L./.e. 

7\ XC C L.C. *L. 

Now that the box-set has replaced the older fashion and 
new devices are steadily improving on the old wood-wings, 
it is enough to indicate clearly in the diagram and in the 
description what doors, windows, fireplaces, and properties 
are necessary, and exactly where, if their positions are essen- 
tial in the action. If not, they may be placed to suit the sense 
of proportion of the designer of the scenery and the sense of 
fitness of the producer. In any case, rarely today does an 
author need to use all or many of these stage divisions of 
an older day. The first of the following diagrams shows how 
simply an interior set which makes no special demands maj 
be indicated. 






438 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 



THE DANCING GIRL. ACT I 1 

Diana Valrose's boudoir at Richmond. A very elegantly furnished 
room, with light, pretty furniture. Discover Drusilla in handsome 
morning dress arranging flowers in large china bowl. Enter foot' 
man, announcing Mr. Christison. Enter John. Exit Footman. 

1 Samuel French, publisher, New York. 




V - / CQ 



c 
8 


a 

o 

-- 




440 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

It is often desirable to vary the usual shape given a 
room on the stage — exactly rectangular or nearly square. 
The next diagram shows a more complicated setting, of 
unusual shape. 



THE WALLS OF JERICHO. ACT I 1 

An ante-room in Marquis of Steventon's house during a ball. 
Miss Wyatt, a vivacious young American* has cake-walked with 
Twelvetrees all the way from the ball-room. 

Music under stage. 

i Samuel French, publisher, New York 



442 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

Act II of Young America calls for a setting in which the 
placing of heavy properties is important. 



YOUNG AMERICA. ACT II 1 

SCENE. The Juvenile Court, 10 a.m. — Two days later. 

Two entrances, R. U. door leading to Judge's chamber. L. 2 door 
leading to corridor. 

Right — Judge's bench. It extends up and down stage. Below it 
Clerk's bench upon which are two card catalogue filing cases for court 
records for children. At L. of Judge's bench small docket for prisoner. 
At L. of docket, witness stand. It is an 18-inch platform with chair 
on it. The docket and witness stand face front. 

Left — three benches for spectators and witnesses. They face front 
and are enclosed within a picket railing. Gate with spring lock, near 
left end of front railing. 

1 Samael French, publisher, New York. 



444 



DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 



How the setting for an outdoor scene may be indicated 
the diagram for Act I of The Dancing Girl shows. 



THE DANCING GIRL. ACT I 1 

SCENE. The Island of Saint Endellion, off the 
Cornish Coast. At the back is a line of low rocks, and 
beyond, the sea. A pathway leads through the rocks 
down to the sea. On the right side of the stage is the 
Quakers 1 meeting-house, a plain square granite build- 
ing, showing a door and two windows. The meeting- 
house is built on a low insular rock that rises some three 
or four feet above the stage; it is approached by path- 
ways, leading up from the stage. On the left side of the 
stage, down towards the audience, is David Ives's house; 
another plain granite building, with a door down stage, 
and above the door, a window. The house is built into 
a cliff that rises above it. Beyond the house is a path- 
way that leads up the cliff and disappears amongst the 
rocks on the left side towards the centre of the stage; a 
little to the right w a piece of rock rising about two feet 
from the stage. 

Time, An Autumn evening. 

i Samuel French, publisher, New York. 



I. Call. 

John Christum. 
Faith Ives. 
David Ives. 
Drusilla Ives. 



446 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

As the chief purpose of the writer of a scenario is imme- 
diately to grip the interest of the reader, this dramatic 
outline must obviously provide any historical background 
necessary to sympathetic understanding of the story. In 
other words, a scenario must very briefly summarize the pre- 
liminary exposition about which so much has already been 
said in the body of this book. 1 The opening of the scenario, 
already quoted in part on p. 428, may be interesting, but it 
is also puzzling, for a reader is not told enough in regard to 
the past of the figures involved to know how to receive what 
information is given. Much depends on whether Denis de 
Beaulieu is lying or not. Make the reader somehow un- 
derstand that Denis and Blanche have never met before 
and that although the uncle believes Denis is her lover, 
he is completely in the wrong. Then comedy immediately 
emerges, interest increases. 

Here is a scenario which remained vague and confusing, 
till just before the final curtain, because the writer thought 
surprise more valuable than suspense. Consequently he 
held back the one bit of information which gives significance 
and comic value to the conduct of Mr. and Mrs. Brede. 

[Diagram of setting] 
SCENE. The piazza of a mountain boarding-house. R, practicable 
door. L, practicable window. C, practicable step. On the piazza are 
a number of chairs. The bit of lawn in front is not too well kept. 

Characters 

■*, ' j r ordinary, well-educated people. 

Major Halkit, retired business man, interested in stock companies. 
Mrs. Halkit, his wife, an old gossip, prim and censorious. 
Mr. Brede ) t , «< • »» 

Mrs. Brede J y0Un9 ' handsome > nwe ' 
Jacobus, Yankee boarding-house keeper. 

Brede and Jones come from the house and discuss the view from 
the piazza. Brede is enthusiastic and compares it with that from the 

1 See pp. 154-182. 






SCENARIOS 447 

Matlcrhorn. Mrs. Brede and Mrs. Jones come from the house in time 
ir ** Matterhorn'* and Mrs. Brede expresses surprise that her 
husband has climbed it. Mr. Brede, confused, says it was five years 
ago. and Mrs. Hrede gently chides him for doing such a thing during 
the first year of their marriage. Mr. Jones and Mrs. Brede talk aside 
while Mr. Brede explains to Mrs. Jones that he had left his wife 
\ ■ w York some months after their marriage for a hasty trip to 
Europe and had climbed the Matterhorn then. 

Mr. and Mrs, Brede go doum the side steps and off at R.C. for a 
stroll. Mr. and Mrs. Jones discuss them, and decide that they are very 
" nice " people. During their talk it develops that while Mr. Brede 
had been telling Mr. Jones that Mrs. Brede had been in this country 
when he climbed the Matterhorn, Mrs. Brede had informed Mrs. 
Jones that her husband had left her at Geneva and afterwards taken 
her to Basle, where their first child was born. 

At this point Mrs. Ilalkit comes from the house. She censures Mrs. 
Brede for not knowing how to care for her husband and children and it 
comes out tliat Mrs. Brede has told Mrs. Halkit that they have two chil- 
dren who have been left with her aunt, whereas Mr. Brede has told 
Mr. Jones tliat they have three children at present under the care of 
his mother-in-law. 

Enter Major Halkit from the house. He criticizes Mr. Brede, who 
purports to be looking for a business opening, for his failure to take a 
fine chance the Major has pointed out to him. 

The party come to the conclusion that there is something queer 
about the couple and are about to call Jacobus when he appears, com- 
ing from the left. Before any of the boarders have a chance to speak. 
Jacobus asks some question about the numbering of streets in New 
York and the fact is brought out that Mr. Brede told Mrs. Jacobus, 
when he was engaging the room, that he lived at number thirty-four 
of his street, and that the day before Mrs. Brede had informed Mrs. 
Jacobus that their number was thirty-five. . . . 

A reader struggling through the paragraphs of this 
scenario finds very little that is dramatic because the dra- 
matic values the writer feels in his sentences cannot be the 
reader's till he learns that Mr. and Mrs. Brede are a newly 
married couple who wish to conceal the fact. Re-read the 
quotation with that in mind and all confusion disappears. 

On the other hand, it is not always easy to convey needed 



448 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

preliminary exposition interestingly. When much is needed, 
there is always danger that the opening of the scenario will 
be talky and referential rather than definite and full of 
dramatic action. The following is by no means as bad an 
example as might be found of a slow opening caused by 
need for much historical exposition, but it certainly lacks 
gripping action: 

SCENARIO OF CONISTON 

When the curtain is raised, Millicent Skinner is working about; 
a second later Chester Perkins comes slinking in, looking back as 
though pursued by the Evil One, and close on his heels, another local 
politician, Mr. Dodd, of the Brampton prudential school committee, 
enters with the same stealthy and harassed air. Millicent twits them 
with having run away from Bijah Bixby who is at Jonah Winch's 
store. They deny that they are afraid of Bije or any one. It is brought 
out in a sentence or two that Jethro Bass, Cynthia and Ephraim Pres- 
cott are away on their Washington trip, and that Bijah, knowing of 
Jethro's absence, is not likely to come here, which is why the two men 
have chosen the yard for a refuge; as they have been planning petty 
treason against the political control of the town by Jethro Bass. Mil- 
licent laughs at them and goes in the house. Mr. Dodd and Chester 
recover their swagger and begin to discuss Bijah and his sneaking ways. 
Bob Worthington enters, goes to the porch and calls Millicent. She re- 
sponds from a nearby window. He enquires when she expects Cynthia 
to return. She tells him they will be here today. Bob announces that he 
will return, a little later, and goes out. Chester and Dodd discuss 
Bob*s attention to Cynthia and how furious the elder Worthington will 
be if his son marries the ward of Jethro Bass. Then they drift back 
to their first topic and are soon absorbed in their wordy revolt against 
Jethro Bass and Bijah. 

Chester. This town's tired of puttin' up with a king! 

(Behind them Bijah enters silently and stands at their elbows 
unperceived.) 
Bijah. Lee tie early for campaignin', Chester, leetle early. 

(The other two stand aghast.) 

The scene which follows between the three men gives their characters, 
the Coniston political atmosphere, Jethro* s position as boss of the State 



SCENARIOS 449 

and his character, the cumulating antagonism between Jethro Bass and 

Wtaac Worth ington, the relation between Jethro and Cynthia, his ward. 

fldei to the tiro that a nctc era is dawning; that "the railroads t 

by Worthington, Sr., are tired, of paying tribute"* to 

Jethro and are abend to turn and exterminate him. Bixby says that 

Jethro' s power is gone, that a greater than he has risen, that Isaac 

mfafhington's campaign, brought forth undercover of a great reform 

movement, will sweep the State in the next few months and leave Jethro 

politically dead. Bijah brings out a copy of the last issue of the New- 

Cuardian {leaxling newspaper of the State), and reads them 

" The scathing arraignment of Jethro Bass . . . showing how he had 

wtbauched his own town of Coniston; how, enlarging on the same 

methods, he had gradually extended his grip over the county and finally 

over the State; how he had bought and sold men for his own power 

and profit, deceived those who had trusted him, corrupted governors and 

'ators . . . how he had trafficked ruthlessly in the enterprises of 

the people" Bijah tells them that the whole State is in a stir over this 

article, that it is the open declaration of war against Jethro. 

Ifrre Alva Hopkins and his daughter Cassandra enter. Hopkins has 
read the article and come post-haste to see Jethro. He and Bijah dis- 
the situation and Bijah tells them that the postmaster ship which 
Jethro has promised to Ephraim Prescott (and which it is surmised 
they have gone to Washington to secure) is to go to Dave Wheelock; 
that that will be the first tangible sign to the public of the fall of Jethro 
Bass. . . . 

The cardinal principle in scenario writing, as in the play 
itself, is that not talk but action is basal. In a scenario, 
however, action is described rather than represented. As 
we have just seen, the lengthy historical account of what lies 
behind the opening scene is hard to convey without talki- 
ness. Many would-be dramatists dodge this difficulty, in- 
deed the whole task of making clear the emotional signifi- 
cance of the action which the play involves, by writing 
scenarios which are little more than schedules of the en- 
trances and exits of their characters. There was something 
of this in the "Coniston" scenario. The difficulty is still 
more marked in the following: 



450 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

THE SIRE DE MALETROIT'S DOOR 

SCENE: The Maletroit Entrance-Hall 

[Diagram of Setting] 

Characters 

A Priest. 

The Sire de Maletroit. 

Blanche de Maletroit, his niece. 

Denis de Beaulieu. 

Retainer. 

Discovered, Retainer finishing work on the door, C. Enter Priest, 
L. U.E. SliglU exposition suggesting that a trap is being set for a girVs 
gallant. Exit Priest. Enter R.U.E. the Sire. Commends the work- 
man s results, increasing the suspense regarding purpose. Rope out- 
side window R, examined without explanation. Retainer, questioned 
as to news in the town, remarks the presence of a dare-devil young 
French soldier under safe-conduct who is likely to get into trouble with 
the troops quartered in town, unless he keeps a civil tongue in his head. 
Retainer dismissed R, with suggestion that he understands what is ex- 
pected of him. 

The Sire calls Priest, questions him regarding Blanche, furthering 
the exposition. 

Blanche enters, dressed as bride, and bursts forth in troubled ques- 
tions as to the meaning of her uncle* s orders regarding her appearance 
at this hour in such costume. The cause is hinted at as an intrigue, and 
Blanche is ordered to retire and wait in the chapel. 

The Sire indicates that the hour is approaching for the "arrival** 
and the lights are extinguished. 

As has been pointed out already, 1 entrances and exits are 
of the slightest possible consequence except when they count 
in characterization or dramatic action. It is what takes 
place for the characters between an entrance and exit which 
a scenario must bring out as briefly yet clearly as possible. 

This fault of over-emphasizing entrances and exits is 
closely related to the "referential" treatment of possible 

1 See p. 287. 



SCENARIOS 451 

dramatic material. The method for this is: "Mr. and Mrs. 
Brown enter and talk passionately about their future." 
no and Sarah now have a tempestuous scene in which 
Anne discloses to the full her agony." Such scenario writing 
is all too easy, for the value of the scenario, like the value of 
the play, will depend upon the ability of the author to make 
the first scene passionate and the second tempestuous and 
.agonizing. A scenario which constantly states that at a 
i given point something of interest will be done or a very 
powerful scene dealing with the emotions of one or more of 
the characters will be written is both useless and exasperat- 
ing. Nobody wants to buy such a dramatic " pig in a poke." 
•Compare a referential scenario, the first of the three which 
! follow, with the other two. They may, as parts of scenarios, 
have faults, but at least they move, not by references to 
"sarcasm, a horror that transfixes, violent threats," etc., 
'but by definitely roused emotional interest. 

THE SIRE DE MALETROIT'S DOOR 

[Diagram of Setting] 

SCENE. A baronial apartment in heavy polished stone. At the 
back a large doorway hung with rich tapestry leads to a small chapel. 
At the right are two doors also with tapestry. In the left back corner 
is a huge fireplace carved with the arms of the Maletroits. At the left 
is a large open window looking over the parapets of the castle. A 
heary table and a chair or two are all the furnishings. 

Place: Chdteau London. 
Time: Fourteenth Century. 

Dramatis Personce 

Blanche, orphan niece of Sire de Maletroit. 
A Priest, chaplain to Sire de Maletroit. 
Sire de Maletroit. 
Denis de Beaulieu, a stranger. 

As the curtain rises Blanche is seen in the chapel kneeling as the 
priest is finishing Vie chanting of the vesper service. At the close she 



452 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

rises and walks toward the window, glancing hastily about to see that r, \ 
one is in the room. As soon as the priest has left she draws froi i 
her breast a letter which she starts to read. She is soon interrupted I 
the entrance of her uncle the Sire de Maletroit, whose keen giant 
detects her hasty crumpling of the note which she has not had time t 
conceal. He greets her jovially and starts to walk hand in hand wit 
her. Forcing open her hand, he finds the note, which he reads in ■ 
bitterly sarcastic tone, while Blanche stands transfixed with horror 
It is a note asking her to leave the house door open at midnight so tha 
the writer may enter and exchange words with her on the stairs. Witi 
cold sarcasm, ill concealing his rage, the Sire forces from her the ston 
that a young captain has met her in church and given her the note. Sh 
denies that she knows his name, and the most violent threats will no 
induce her to tell it. She is then sent to her room to dress in sackclot) 
of repentance and told to prepare to spend the night in the chapel. 

THE SIRE DE MALETROIT'S DOOR 

Persons represented 

The Sire de Maletroit. 
Blanche de Maletroit, his niece. 
Denis de Beaulieu, a young soldier. 
A Priest. 

SCENE. Large apartment of stone. On each of the three sides 
the room, three doors curtained with tapestry. On left, beside the dc 
a window. Stone chimney-piece, carved with arms of the Maletroits. 
Furniture, mainly consisting of table, and heavy chair beside chimney. 

Place: Chateau Landon, France. 
Time: September, 11^29. 

Curtain rises showing an old gentleman in a fur tipped coat seated 
in the heavy chair. The old man is mumbling to himself a sort of strange 
murmur, smiling and nodding, as he sips a cup of wine. The room is 
silent save for the muttering of the old man. 

Suddenly, from the direction of the arras covering the door to left, 
a muffled sound begins to obtrude itself. This sound, at first vague, 
then waxing more and more distinct, resolves itself into steps cautiously 
mounting a flight of stairs. The steps, gradually less vague, finally firm 
and assertive, reach the tapestried doorway. The click of metal, prob- 
ably that of a sword, accompanying the steps, echoes in the hush of the 
room. 



SCENARIOS 453 

The arms parts, and a young man blinking from dark into sudden 

. .s-tu mbles into the room. (As the tapestry closes beh ind the youth, 

\rk jmssageway and shadmcy flight of stairs beyond are visible.) 

other pause ensues, during which the young man and the old 

utinue to gaze at one another. 

'* Pray step in," begins the old man; "7 have been expecting you all 

m$ evening." 

The youth shivers slightly, hesitating for speech. Finally he man- 
ages to answer. . . . 

MISTRESS BEATRICE COPE 

ACT HI. SCENE 1 

'Next day. White Oaks. Late twilight. Nightfalls during early part 
of scene. Later, moonlight. The great dining hall. It opens at the 
back on a terrace with a large door at centre. Dame Pettigrew, Joyce 
tarui Eliza discovered in aflutter over the news of the war. Scotch raids 
<arc threatened from over the border. There are terrible tales of the loot- 
nngs by the King's soldiers of places suspected of Jacobitry. Dame 

grew, as she hears now this story, now that, is first Whig and then 
.Jacobite, until she bewilders herself and the maids. They play on 
one another's nerves until they are in sore fright. Pettigrew begins 
\to collect her goods against leaving on the morrow, regretting that she 
ihas sent for Beatrice to stay with her, who is momentarily expected. 
At heiglit of nervous strain, when all windows have been closed, all 
.lights but the fire are out, and the women sit cowering and silent, the 
mournful shrilling of bagpipes and the heavy tread of feet coming 
nearer and nearer are heard. Joyce gasps about ghosts. Chilled with 

r, no one dares go to the window. The procession reaches the end of 
ithe lane and passes. Sudden sharp rapping at door. Frightened par- 
ley with spirits, as maids think. Beatrice forces them to open, and ap- 
pears. The pipes are the funeral train of a Jacobite killed on the 
neighboring border and now on the way to Goodrest for a final mass. 
Beatrice is excited and anxious but brings order out of chaos in the room. 
Turns up lights, gets rid of Dame Pettigrew, and one maid, and sends 
other maid for supper. Bids Joyce, should Bill Lampeter appear, send 
him to her at once. She has « message for Crowe Hall. When Joyce 
'has departed ironderingly, it appears that all day Beatrice has been 
trying to warn Cope at Goodrest that they were watched the day before, 
but Iwls been unable till as she rode over with Jessie she met BUI Lampe- 



454 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

ter on the road. Dropping behind, she wrote hastily on her tablets . j 
warning, and dropping them into Bill's hands made him fly to Good 
rest, he to report his success at once. A knock at the big door softly 
Raymond's voice. When she opens to him, a passionate scene follows 
She is at first full of affection, mingled with dread of what he may know 
He is fighting suspicion, passion for her, and inability to believe he. 
guilty. Seeking her at Crowe Hall, he has followed her thither. A 
first she is too sincere to play with him. He is too anxious to be abh 
to diplomatize. He shows his fears — that she is intriguing with an- 
other, with the Pretender. She is maddeningly incomprehensible — 
swears she knows no Pretender, but will not say yes or no as to meet- 
ing any one in the wood. In his anger and his desire to force the truth 
from her, by making her feel the uselessness of protecting the Pretender, 
he lets drop more than he realizes of plans to catch him and for the 
campaign. Seeing that, had her message not gone, her brother would 
have been trapped, Beatrice works to delay Raymond. She is first coldly 
repellent, then alluring, then silent, then apparently almost on the 
point of revelation. At last in despair he breaks away into the night, 
vowing vengeance on the destroyer of his happiness and cursing her 
for a fickle, ambitious thing, unworthy a good man's love. She stands 
motionless by the table, then hurries to the wide open door through 
which the moonlight streams in from the garden, calls again and again 
softly, staggers back, and falls sobbing on the great settle. Van Brugh 
appears at the open doors, closes them softly and speaks. He is leaving 
the Hunters for good, for the final Jacobite blows are to be struck. See- 
ing Raymond ahead of him, he hid in the garden till Raymond went. 
He calls on " The Daughter of Charles Cope" to tell him for the good 
of the cause what she knows of Raymond's plans. She denies that she 
knows them fully, but cannot deny that she knows something of them. 
He shows that everything depends for the Jacobites on knowing the 
movements of the local forces for the next few days. He uses every ap- 
peal he can, her brother among others. To this she only answers that she 
has warned and saved him. All his appeals are in vain. "Raymond is 
my husband in the sight of God. His secrets should be my secrets, but 
my brother I cannot help to kill. To save him I must deceive the man 
I love best in all the world; so be it. So much I must do, more I will 
not." Sandiland, the fanatic breaking out in him, curses her as a rene- 
gade and unworthy her name and race. He goes. As she stands mur- 
muring: " Unworthy love, unworthy my father's name!" suddenly her 
face softens. She drops to the settle and prays for a moment. Quietly 
she rises, saying, " Why count the cost if Charles' life be saved." The 



SCENARIOS 455 

i door opens and Joyce enters in great excitement to say, " Pill has come, 
but in bad plight." She fetches the boy, his clothes torn, his hands bleed- 
iny where ropes have cut the wrists. He has been taken shortly after 

ng Heat rice and searched. He snatched the tablets from a captor's 
hand and licked off the message before it was read. He was then trussed 
up behind a soldier on horseback, and started for the " Maid in the 
Valley " Tavern, the rendezvous from which the journey to Goodrest 
was to begin. By daring and ingenuity he slipped away at the inn. 
" Then my brother knows nothing.*' " No, and they '11 be starting 
by now from Vie Maid in tlie Valley. They were waiting for the 
moon to be covered." " Where's Philly, my mare?" "In the paddock, 
miss." " What do you mean ? " cries Joyce. " / am going to Goodrest." 

>net To-night, with these rake-hell soldiers abroad?" Beatrice's 
only answer is to find her whip and pass quickly out into the night. 
Joyce sinks down sobbing in window seat. Bill is in the doorway, wild 
with excitement. "Now, ride, ride, Miss Beatrice. Ride, like Hell!" 

Quick Curtain 

If it is clear that illustrative action is as essential in a 
scenario as in a play, it is as true for one form as the other 
that right proportioning and emphasis must make clear the 
purpose of the author in writing the scenario and must take 
a reader clearly to its conclusion. Read any one of the fol- 
lowing three scenarios and decide whether you are clear as 
to the purpose of the author. What did he think was 
attractively dramatic in his material? What is the central 
interest of his proposed play? Just what is the suspense 
created near the beginning of the play and developed 
throughout from sub-climaxes to a final climax? As has 
been carefully explained, plays must do all this. Therefore 
their scenarios must also. 

THE FISHING OF SUZANNE 

SCENARIO. Curtain rises discovering Madame knitting in chair t 
upper rigid, Helene embroidering in window-seat, Suzanne on sofa 9 
trying to sew. Suzanne gets into trouble and HSlene helps her. Then 
grandmother offers to tell her a story. Suzanne says that her stories 



456 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

are so sad, always about her dead parents. HSlene represses her. Enter 
grandfather, the Colonel, rear. Suzanne starts to show him her seuring 
and is repulsed. Colonel denounces the Dreyfus situation; Madame 
trying to interfere when he begins on the American attitude, finally gets 
HSlene and Suzanne from room. Then Colonel learns that George Wil- 
liams, an American, loves HSlene. He is overcome. Enter George rear. 
Embarrassing situation; finally George gets up courage and asks for 
HSlene* s hand, is refused, but goes away undaunted. Enter HSlene, 
side. Colonel says, "I will have no friend of traitors place his foot 
in my house.** Scene. Exit HSlene sobbing angrily. Colonel disturbed, 
but when wife starts after her, forbids her going. Exit the Colonel. 
Madame again starts toward door. Suzanne and Marie enter. Ma- 
dame has Suzanne play with fishing rod; dismisses Marie from room. 
Suzanne hears HSlene* s sobs. Asks if she is sick. Says she will com- 
fort her. Madame feels guilty and leaves. Suzanne persuades HSlene 
to come out and watch her fish. Catches some imaginary ones. Dis- 
covers George. He sends up notes like fish. Later HSlene furnishes 
bait. Then she fishes him up. Suzanne is dismissed with candy, and 
he persuades HSlene to elope. Suzanne comes and says the cab is 
there. Steps heard. George goes down rope. Marie tells of the cab. 
HSlene rushes into packing. Leaves note for mother with Suzanne, 
who wins a promise for a speedy return from her. Exit HSlene rear. 
Marie and Suzanne wave from window. Talk. Soon Colonel and 
Madame enter. See disorderly room. Suzanne gives them the note. 
Madame reads it and breaks news to her husband. Defends HSlene; 
reminds Colonel of their parents' political differences. Suzanne tells 
how HSlene tlwught they did not care for her in her sorrow. Both in 
tears. Colonel in desperation starts to send for them by Marie. Enter 
George and HSlene ; HSlene unable to leave without seeing them. Colonel 
says he may have been too hasty. Then Suzanne discovers George's 
Legion of Honor badge. He and Colonel shake on the old friendship 
of the Republics. 

Curtain 



SCENARIOS 457 

AN ENCORE 

Adapted from a Story by Margaret Deland 

Time: About 1S30, in June. 

Place: Little town of Old Chester. 

Between the first and second act three weeks elapse. 

Dramatis Personal 

Captain Price: Retired sea-captain, big, bluff, and hearty, with white 
hair and big white miistachios, rather untidy as to dress. Age. about 68. 

Cyrus Price : His son, weak and neat-looking, very thin and of 
sand// complexion. Age, about 35. 

Mrs. Xorth : SprigJdly, pretty, white-haired little lady of about 65. 
Always in black silk. 

Miss Xorth : Her daughter, nervous and shy, but truthful with a 
mania for taking care of her motlwr and no knowledge of how to wear 
her clothes; about 40. 

Mrs. Gussie Price: A stout, colorless blond, a weeping, vividly 
gowned lady, who rules her husband, Cyrus, through her tears. Age, 
about 30. 

Flora : A colored maid. 

Stage setting : A drawing-room with a door on either side of the 
back, leading into the long front hall. A window at the right, looking 
the street. Between the window and the door, a stuffed armchair, 
a hair-cloth sofa. Between the doors, under a mantel-shelf, a Franklin 
stove, on either side of which, but a little down stage, are two rockers 
just alike. To the left and back, grand piano. To the left, front, an- 
other big chair. Hassocks; and a knit shawl on almost every chair. 
The only ornament on the shelf is a stuffed bird in a glass case. 

ACT I 

Miss Xorth is discovered in a very much starched gown, big apron, 
dusting-cap, and gloves; arranging the chairs more evenly and dust- 
ing. Expression of heavy responsibility in her face and manner. 

Flora announces Mrs. Price, who enters — right door — at once. 
Though Mary explains she is busy, Mrs. Price stays. Sits on the sofa. 
Mary in rocking-chair to left of stove. Dialogue in which Mary ex- 
plains she is determined to let her mother end life happily in her native 
town and she expects her to arrive any moment. Mrs. Price offers assist- 



458 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

ance infixing up the house and begins to gossip about the fact that het 
father-in-law, the Captain, who lives in the Price house just across the 
street, tried to elope with Mrs. North when she was eighteen. Mary 
becomes very indignant, but sees her mother through the window and 
dismisses Mrs. Price politely but not sweetly. Exit Mrs. Price by 
the right door, Mary by the left. Enter Mrs. North by the right and 
Mary is seen hurrying by the right door with a small wooden chair in 
her hand. 

Mrs. North begins to look about the room while she takes off her ca- 
lash and leaves it on the piano, her shawl and puts it on the shelf, her 
gloves and leaves them on a chair. Mary enters, right, with the chair, 
during this business and remonstrates with her mother for getting out 
of the chaise without the aid of the chair. As Mrs. North drops her 
things Mary picks them up. Mrs. North sees the Price house through 
the window and mentions, cheerily, that the Captain used to be her 
beau. Mary is shocked. Tries to have her mother put on one of the 
little shawls and goes to make her some beef -tea. Hangs her things 
on the hat-tree in hall beyond left door as she goes out. 

Mrs. North discovers the Captain going down street and calls him 
in. Enters right door with his pipe. Both sit in the rockers before the 
stove and are deep in reminiscences when Mary enters left door. The 
Captain is requested to put up his pipe, not to talk quite so loud, and 
not to stay long because of Mrs. North's delicacy. When Mary offers 
to make him some beef-tea, too, so her mother can take hers, he leaves 
precipitately, very much cowed. 

While Mary is trying to soothe Mrs. North after the undue excite- 
ment, Flora announces Cyrus Price who has come in search of his 
father — at Gussie's tearful instigation. Mary and Cyrus hold an 
anxious aside, while Mrs. North expresses her pleasure at seeing the 
Captain again. Curtain falls on Mrs. North trying to pick out some 
of the old tunes on the piano, and Cyrus and Mary bidding each other 
a stiff " Good-morning." 

ACT II 

The Captain and Mrs. North discovered, the Captain with his har- 
monica trying to teach Mrs. North the old airs. Enter Mary at right 
door, from outdoors. Consternation ensues and in a few moments the 
Captain leaves guiltily. Then Mary explains that she has been over 
to the Prices and requested Cyrus to tell the Captain he must keep 
away, for they are both too old to be married. Mrs. North exits lefU in 



SCENARIOS 459 

despair. Flora announces Mr. and Mrs. Price: a conference of war is 
held during which it is decided that Cyrus must consult the minister , 
Dr. Lavender, and Gussie must speak to the Captain himself. Exeunt 
Mr. and Mrs. Price. 

Enter Mrs. Xorthfor her knitting. Mary wraps her up in a shawl y 
puts a Imssock at her feet, suggests liglUing a fire in the stove, and 
tries to comfort fier mother by telling her she will take her away from 
Old ( '/tester if the ( 'aptain keeps on bothering her. Mrs. North remon- 
strates feebly, and Mary decides she needs some beef-tea after the 
excitement. Exit Mary to make t/ie tea. 

Enter the Captain witlwut ringing or knocking, in great wrath. 
Gussie has spoken to him. At first they laugh at the children's stupidity 
and by degrees decide to carry out and confirm the children's suspicions 
by eloping. Enter Mary. Confusion, but the Captain pretends he has 
come to say good-bye to her because he is going away for a few weeks 
and under that cover, makes the appointment for the eloping. 

Curtain with his exit 



THE CAPTAIN, A MELODRAMA 

[Diagram] 
Dramatis Persona 

Captain Tm Rue. a little sea captain. 

Bromley Barnes, former special investigator for the U.S. Custom^ 
Service. 

Patrick Clancy, his friend. 

A burly Butler. 

John Felspar, junior partner of the firm of Felspar & Felspar, wine 
merchants. 

Tiro Dinner Guests, members of the firm. 

Carl Cozzens, the firm's Canadian representative. 

SCENE. The dining-room of Felspar's Summer Cottage 

Time: Early evening 

The Captain is discovered sitting on the end of the table next the 
windene with his legs dangling dejectedly. Suddenly he sees something 
and, rushing to the window, goes through a violent pantomime im- 
ploring help and caution from some one without and indicating the 



460 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

way to enter the house. He then wrings his hands and paces the floor 
excitedly ending at D. R. C. where he listens. The key turns in the lock 
and Barnes and Clancy enter cautiously. The Captain throws himself 
at their feet and tells them of being kidnapped and confined and his 
Ship's papers taken from him and asks frantically for the time. 
Barnes tells him, and the Captain becomes at once dejected and silent. 
TJie other two, however, draw from him the story of how he has been 
racing over the Atlantic to get a cargo of champagne to an American 
port in time to get the benefit of the old tariff rate, just increased by the 
governments concerned. He got in in time but was drugged and con- 
fined in this house till too late and his papers taken from him. They 
advise him to stay where he is and, promising to help him at once, slip 
out as they came. The Butler comes in D. R. C. and begins setting 
table, joking the Captain about the supper to be held in his honor, but 
growling about the suddenness of his master's decision to have it. The 
Captain is excited and helps him in mock politeness. As they are 
working, Felspar comes in. Butler tells him that he has hired a waiter 
for the evening, subject to his approval — a man who happened to be 
walking by, with a friend. Felspar congratulates him and the new 
waiter is called. It is Clancy. La Rue controls himself as he recog- 
nizes him. Felspar orders the Butler to lock La Rue in the upstairs 
bedroom, which has been prepared, till he shall be wanted, telling him 
at the same time that all the guests have arrived but Mr. Cozzens, who 
is to be brought directly to the dining-room when he arrives. The others 
will not wait for him. The Butler hurries La Rue off. Felspar gives a 
few parting instructions to the new waiter and goes to bring the guests. 
Clancy finishes the preparations and signals out the window to Barnes 
to come. Felspar comes back with the guests D. L. C. The Butler 
reappears, is called to the door-bell and ushers in Barnes as "Mr. 
Cozzens." Felspar introduces him as the Canadian representative of 
the firm whom he has never seen before. Barnes takes the cue and ex- 
cuses his costume, saying that he arrived late and has not had time to 
change. All sit again and Felspar, telling the Butler to bring La Rue, 
tells the company that the ship's papers of the rival business house 
have come into his hands. These he produces and passes along the 
table. Barnes, at the opposite end, pockets them as they come to him 
and refuses to give them up. All are astonished and half-angry. The 
Butler, having brought in the Captain at Felspar's order (who stands 
unnoticed at the back) again answers the bell and ushers in Mr. Coz- 
zens, announcing him in a doubtfid voice. Felspar stutters, " You — 
you Mr. Cozzens ?" "So me mother and father says" the new-comer 



SCENARIOS 461 

replies. "And you?" says the wine-merchant wheeling on Barnes. 

es presents his card which is read aloud by Felspar, who goes into 
a white heat and demands the papers back. Barnes blandly refuses. 

>ar threatens, saying he has four to one. At this point ( lancy and 
La Rue step forward and signify their readiness to side with Barnes. 
par laughs and tells them to take the papers then as the new law 
went iri to effect at four-thirty that afternoon. But Barnes informs him 
that the provisions of the French-American commercial treaty demand 
that the customs houses remain open till midnight when such a law 
goes through, and that they still have several hours. Felspar is again 
furious and orders them out and the three go together leaving the com- 
pany in an angry stupor. 

Curtain 

Let it be clearly understood that there is no definitely 
established length for a scenario. It may run from one to 
two pages for a play of one act to twenty or more pages for a 
longer play. Obviously, a scenario should be as brief as 
clear presentation of what it must give permits, for it pri- 
marily exists as a short cut for the person who reads it to 
necessary information about a proposed play. Clearness is 
the first essential; brevity the second. The exact length 
must in each case be decided by the particular needs of the 
subject treated and the best judgment of the writer. 

Above all, it should be remembered that a scenario unless 
it is simply an abbreviated presentation of a play already in 
manuscript should be considered something flexible. What 
is meant by this is that many a writer working with a sce- 
nario which has been approved by a manager or actor feels 
hampered because as he writes he has almost irresistible 
impulses to break away from the scenario as planned into 
situations or details of characterization and even of general 
treatment which, though they occur to him at the moment, 
seem to him undoubted improvements. Yet he hesitates to 
change his plan because it has been approved. This is folly. 
A scenario is at its best when it concerns not a completed 



462 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

but a proposed play and is held to be not fixed but thor- 
oughly flexible. If changes suggesting themselves are felt 
by the writer to be improvements, he should by all means 
incorporate them. A good scenario bears much the same 
relation to a completed play that an architect's plans bear 
to a completed house. Where would the carpenter be with- 
out such plans, yet where is the set of plans which has not 
been modified or even greatly changed while the building 
is in construction? "Ibsen had no respect for any drama- 
tist who proceeded otherwise [than from a carefully pre- 
pared scenario]. Once besought by a young dramatist to 
read the manuscript of his new play, Ibsen curtly asked for 
the scenario. When the young man proudly replied that he 
needed no scenario, having followed his inspiration whither- 
soever it led him from scene to scene, Ibsen grew furious 
and showed the pseudo-dramatist the door, declaring that 
any one who dispensed with a scenario didn't know what a 
drama was and couldn't possibly write one. And yet, after 
all, the scenario as first outlined by Ibsen may best be re- 
garded as an experimental foreshadowing subject to radical 
modification as the writing of the play itself proceeds. It 
serves as the skeleton framework for Ibsen's later ideation. 
. . . While it is true, then, that the material took shape in 
his mind long before he wrote a word of actual dialogue, yet 
Ibsen expressly acknowledged that it never took such unal- 
terable shape in his mind as to permit him to write the last 
act first or the first act last. During the course of the work 
the details emerged by degrees." 1 

The fact is, a scenario is almost always a photograph of 
the mind of the person who writes it. If he is not ready to 
write his play, the scenario will show it, making clear 
whether this unreadiness comes from insufficiently under- 

1 European Dramatists. Henrik Ibsen. A. Henderson. Pp. 175-176. Stewart & Kidd Co., 
Cincinnati. 



SCENARIOS 463 

stood characterization; thin or inco mp lete story; a lack of 
ri^'lit proportioning <>f the material so that what is unimpor- 
tant stems important; or a general vagueness as to what 
the author wants to do with his material. Just here lies the 
Strong reason why every would-be dramatist will do well 
to become expert in scenario writing. He may for a long 
fool himself into thinking that he can work better 
without a scenario; he may be able to WTite without putting 
on paper all that in this chapter has been required from the 
writer of a scenario, but sooner or later he goes through all 
the processes in his mind and either on paper or in his brain 
fulfils these requirements. The very people who shrink 
from forcing themselves to work out all the details required 
by a good scenario are merely dodging the inevitable. They 
avoid something irksome as a preliminary merely to do all 
this work before the completed play is ready. He who wants 
to WTite his play rapidly will find that he makes time in his 
final composition by taking all the time he needs in the pre- 
liminary task of drawing a good scenario. Undeniably, a 
scenario is the most effective way of forcing oneself to know 
the characters and the story of a play before one begins to 
write the play in detail. Work out a scenario carefully and 
all the difficult problems the play involves will have been 
solved except those of dialogue and perhaps some subtleties 
of characterization. Regard the resulting scenario as some- 
thing entirely flexible and the composition of the play 
should be safe and even sure. He who steers by the compass 
knows how 7 with safety to change his course. He who steers 
by dead reckoning is liable to error and delay. 

Often questions as to scenarios are asked which imply 
that there must be some set form fulfilling all the require- 
ments stated which can be adhered to strictly. Not at all. 
These various requirements may bo met in almost as many 
ways as there are writers. One man may use more descrip- 



464 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

tion. Another writer may use more narration. Some 
will use dialogue very freely. Some will characterize more 
than others. Yet all these different workers may produce 
scenarios equally good in that they are clear, brief, move 
by suggested dramatic action, are definite in genre, and 
make thoroughly evident their elements of suspense and 
climax. 

Here are some scenarios which use dialogue rather freely. 
They are given not because such use is especially com- 
mendable but merely to illustrate it. 

THE LEGACY 

The persons 

David Brice, a young attorney. 
Reene Brice, his uncle. 
Benjamin Doyle, his fiancie's father. 
Dr. Wangren, family physician. 
Mrs. Brice, the mother. 
"Ditto" Brice, the sister. 
Katherine Doyle, JlancSe. 

The Time: The present. 
The Place: Any city. 

SCENE. The Brice living-room comfortably furnished in walnut. 
A piano centre L., a round table rear R. Four entrances : upper L., 
rear centre, upper right, right centre. Curtained windows rear R. & L. 

Joy seems to radiate through the household. Ditto and Katherine 
are discovered ; Katherine, a pretty enthusiast of 22 playing dimin- 
uendo a joy -melody at piano; Ditto, pretty, 20 and nervous, crossing R. 
with an armload of tagged packages of various sizes and prettily tied — 
birthday presents for her brother David. Arrived at table, rear R., she 
deposits them. 

Ditto. (Stacking packages.) Don't you wish you were getting 
these birthday presents, Katherine? 

Katherine. (Playing.) I am, Ditto, dear. David is mine; there- 
fore, what is David's belongs to me. 



SCENARIOS 465 

Ditto. (Petulantly.) And what is yours . . . 
Katherine. (In fun.) . . . IK longs to farther. 

(Begins to sing merrily.) 

Enter Mrs. Brice, L„ a thoughtful woman of 50, quite grey and 
though careworn, attractive. She carries a linen spread and goes 
to the table. Katherine sings softly, playing diminuendo. 
Mr$, Brice. (Covering presents.) You are very happy tonight, 
aivn't you? 

Katherine. (Cheerily.) Why shouldn't I be, Mrs. Brice? It is 
David's birthday. (Going to her.) But you aren't. 

Mrs. Brice. (Bravely.) Yes, I am. But you see this is probably 
David's last birthday at home and . . . 

Katlicrine. (Lovingly.) By no means! I shall bring him home 
every birthday. (Kissing her.) . . . And once in a while between. 

Mrs. Brice. (As they go down, arm in arm.) I know you will, 
Katherine, but we mothers . . . 

David. (Entering centre rear, overcoat, hat and traveling grip.) 
Hello everybody! . . . (Tosses grip on table and makes for them.) 
. . . Merry Christmas, Happy New Year (kisses mother) and a 
quiet Fourth of July. (Kisses Katherine.) 

(David is a well-buili handsome man of 28 neatly dressed 
in business suit, light-weight overcoat and hat.) 
David. (Removing coat, Katherine assisting.) Well, how are all 
the little details? 

(Coat off, he begins kissing Katherine again. Enter Ditto, R.) 
Ditto. (Petulantly.) Do you realize this is your birthday? 
David. (Kissing mother.) I am doing my best to show it! (Toss- 
ing Ditto his coat.) Hang that up and I will show you. 

(Exit Ditto, R„ with his coat and hat.) 
David. (Coming down from table with blue-print in hand.) Now, 
mother and child, look ye! 

(He shows them the architectural plans of the new cottage 
he is going to build as a wedding present to Katherine. 
They like them very much. More joy. Ditto, reentering, 
is also enthusiastic over plans. 
David next announces tliat he has been invited to become a 
member of his employer's law firm, one of the most suc- 
cessful in the State. More joy, manifested by another 
round of kisses. 
But he has not only been asked to join the firm; the firm 



466 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

has 'promised him a straight loan, without interest, with 
which to build his house. Otherwise he would have had to 
borrow from a building and loan association. Therefore, 
bids are now being advertised for and work will begin very 
soon. Great joy. Ditto seizes mother's hand and Kath- 
erine' s and dances a ring around David. 
As the jollification subsides, David inquires for his uncle, 
Reene. He must approve the plans, for he was a great ar- 
chitect in his day. His mother informs him that the uncle 
went for a ride with Doctor Wangren.) 
David. How is he feeling today? 

Mrs. Brice. Not quite so well. In fact, I never saw him so 
despondent. 

David. He must not look at it that way. We all have our little 
troubles. (To Katherine.) Don't we? 

{They go toward piano. Exit Mrs. Brice, L., taking Ditto 

with her. 
In a short scene at the piano, during which Katherine plays 
diminuendo, the fact is revealed that her father opposes 
the match between her and David; not because he does not 
like David but for reasons which he has not divulged to his 
daughter. This cloud passes by quickly, however.) 

THE CONSULTATION 

The persons of the play 

Marian, 

Katherine. 

Dr. Thomas Wells. 

Dr. Benjamin Crawford. 

The scene represents a sitting room in Marianas home. It is very 
cheaply furnished. There is a door at back centre, and also ore at 
R. At upper left is a curtained window, not practicable. In the centre 
is a table, on which is a UgJded lamp. Near the window is a couch. 
There are chairs about the room, and a few cheap pictures on the walls. 
It is evening, and the room is dimly lighted. 

[Diagram] 

When the curtain rises, there is no one in the room, but in a moment 
the door at rear opens, and Katherine enters noiselessly. She is a 



SCENARIOS 467 

pleasant looking woman of 30. She is followed by Dr. Wells, who 
closes the door behind him very softly, lie is a young man, with a 
Van Dyke heard. The tiro go to right of table, and Katherine looks at 
doctor inquiringly. He speaks with some hesitation. 
Dr. Wells. Ymi want t lie truth? 
Katherine. Of course. 

Dr. Wells. I think he's dying. This is the crisis, and the chances 
are a thousand to one against him. 

Katherine. I in afraid my sister can't bear the shock. She loves 
her husband more than I can tell you, Doctor. 

(They are discussing the case when Marian enters from the 
rear. She lingers a moment and looks back into the other 
room,. Then she sloivly closes the door, and advances to- 
wards the otliers. She is a pretty woman, about 25, but 
she looks pale and anxious. 
Dr. Wells and Katherine stop talking when she comes near 
and watch her. She turns to the Doctor and asks for his 
verdict. He doesn't reply, but looks inquiringly at Kath- 
erine. After a moment, she says he'd better tell her. Very 
I gently he breaks the news, and informs her that her hus- 

band will probably die. The disease is vicious and can't be 
checked.) 
Marian. (Anxiously.) You mean my husband will die? 
Dr. Wells. I fear so. 
Marian. Don't say that, Doctor. It will kill me. You don't 
know what John means to me. 

(The Doctor assures her that he has done his best, and the 

patient is now in the hands of God. He's sorry but in all 

honesty he believes the man will die. 

Marian refuses to believe, and maintains that her husband 

will not die. No doubt he's a very sick man, but he will 

live. She declares she has sent for a man who can save 

him.) 

Marian. You've been good, Doctor, and God will bless you. 

But you won't blame me for saying that perhaps some one else 

might look at the case differently. You don't feel hurt? Don't 

blame me, but I've sent for Dr. Crawford, so you can have — what 

do you call it? — a consultation. I know he can save my husband's 

life. 

Dr. Wells. (Surprised.) You mean Dr. William Crawford, the 
famous specialist? 



468 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

Marian. Yes. Oh, Doctor, he's so wonderful! 

Dr. Wells. (Enthusiastically.) Wonderful? I should say so. He's 
one of the most remarkable men in the profession. If there's any 
one in the world who can save your husband's life, he is the man. 
(Doubtfully.) But can you pay his fee? 

SCENARIO 
THE WINNING OF GENERAL JANE 

(A farce of three persons, a dog, and a gun "that wasn't loaded") 

Cast 

Jane, about twenty. 

Aunt Sophy, her maiden aunt, about 45. 

Bobby Holloway, a lodger, about 23. 

Place, Jane's bedroom. Time about 11 at night 

SETTING. Lower left a closet, door opening inward. Upper left 
a door leading to Aunt Sophy's room, opening inward. Rear centre, 
double-windows set in a shallow alcove. The curtains are draped to 
right and left. Right, up stage, a fireplace without a fire. Left, down 
stage, a dressing-table with mirror. A low stool stands before it. Against 
rear wall to left a washstand half-hidden by a Japanese screen, 
shoulder height. Against right wall and about halfway down stage a 
bed. It is low and preferably wooden. 

[Diagram of Setting] 

At rise Jane is discovered at dressing-table occupied in braiding 
her hair. Enter Aunt Sophy. She asks Jane if Mr. Holloway, their 
single lodger, is in for the night. Jane replies with some petulance that 
she does not know. A dissection of that gentleman's character ensues 
in which Jane anathematizes him, while Aunt Sophy, despite her 
avowed dislike for all things masculine, champions his cause. At last 
Jane intimates tJiat in all probability Mr. Holloway will propose to 
Aunt Sophy at a very early date. The latter cannot conceal her delight. 
She is not content with Jane's assurance on this point but must know 
how she discovered the state of Bobby's affections. Jane finally admits 
that she bases her deduction upon the fact that he "proposes to every- 
body, in season and out!" — that he has proposed to her, Jane, no 
less than 237 times. 

Aunt Sophy is hurt and shocked at this revelation of perfidy and 






SCENARIOS 469 

immediate!?/ sides with Jane, declaring that she will oust Mr. Hollo- 
on the following morning. Jane however does not want to be sided 
with . 1 1 'ith true fern in ine variability she shifts her attitude as completely 
I nit Sophy has hers, and pleads with the outraged old maid to 
'se her decision. She shows that she really cares for Bobby more 
than at first appeared. Aunt Sophy however is obdurate, and departs, 
y Jane almost dissolved in tears. 
At this juncture a racket arises outside Jane's window. It is a mix- 
ture of blasphemous English, growls and hurried footsteps. Jane 
starts to investigate, but seeing an arm and a leg thrust hastily over the 
sill, retreats to the door in alarm. Immediately Bobby climbs in, and a 
smothered exclamation from Jane identifies him. He glances about 
hurriedly, and not perceiving her, turns his attention to the dog who 
still groivls below. He epitomizes him with surprising fluency, until 
.1 \ unable to stand more, interrupts. This precipitates a profuse 
apology for the intrusion and other things, an explanation, and later a 
prop< 

Jane is angered beyond measure not only at this invasion of her 
privacy but also at Bobby's attitude towards the whole affair. She 
orders him to leave. He attempts to do so by way of the door. 
Jane. (Frightened.) W-w-where are you going? 
Bobby. (Shrugging.) Hump! — to heaven — eventually! 
Jane. (Barring way.) N-n-not through Aunt Sophy's room! 

(She informs him that he must depart the way he came. He 
consents but only in a very half-liearted manner. Between 
Aunt Sophy and Towser he is in a quandary. After sev- 
eral unsuccessful starts he flatly refuses to descend, and 
upbraids Jane for her cruelty. He dwells at length on the 
horrors of dog-bites, hydrophobia, madness, and death.) 
Bobby. (Injured.) As if I had not already been chewed up so 
that I can scarcely sit — (hastily) — I mean walk. 
Jane. (Relenting.) Gracious! Bobby, did he bite you? 
Bobby. Did he? 

Jane. (Seizing bottle from table.) Heavens! You must put some- 
thing on it! Some antiseptic! Bobby come here! 
Bobby. Oh, no, no! No, it's not serious! 
Jane. Come here this instant! 
Bobby. (Flatly.) I won't do it! 

(He succeeds so well in working upon her sympathies that 
even a knock at Aunt Sophy's door is not enough to make 
her cliange her attitude. She now as obstinately refuses to 



47© DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

let him descend to certain death as previously he had re- 
fused to do it. The knocks are continued. Jane is rapidly 
losing her head when it suddenly occurs to her that if she 
stores Bobby away under the bed until Towser has de- 
parted or Aunt Sophy has gone to sleep, all may yet be 
well. While Bobby is ensconcing himself in this new posi- 
tion a three cornered conversation takes place, in which 
Jane becomes more and more involved.) 

Aunt Sophy. (Outside.) Jane, Jane, are you ill? 

Jane. 111? Oh, oh! I don't know! 

Aunt Sophy. Open the door this minute or I'll break it down! 

Jane. Break it down? 

Aunt Sophy. Yes, this instant! 

Jane. Oh, oh! Don't do that! It's not locked! . . . 

It may be interesting to compare the scenario of A Doll's 
House from which Ibsen wrote his first draft with his orig- 
inal notes. Here is perfect illustration of the difference be- 
tween sketchy notes which mean much to the writer and a 
scenario which at least broadly will convey to a reader the 
artistic and ethical purposes in the play the dramatist 
means to write. 

NOTES FOR THE MODERN TRAGEDY 

Rome, 19. 10, 78. 

There are two kinds of spiritual law, two kinds of conscience, 
one in man and another, altogether different, in woman. They do 
not understand each other; but in practical life the woman is 
judged by man's law, as though she were not a woman but a man. 

The wife in the play ends by having no idea of what is right or 
wrong; natural feeling on the one hand and belief in authority on 
the other have altogether bewildered her. 

A woman cannot be herself in the society of the present day, 
which is an exclusively masculine society, with laws framed by 
men and with a judicial system that judges feminine conduct 
from a masculine point of view. 

She has committed forgery, and she is proud of it; for she did it 
out of love for her husband, to save his life. But this husband, 
with his commonplace principles of honour is on the side of the law 
and regards the question with masculine eyes. 



SCENARIOS 471 

Spiritual conflicts. Oppressed and bewfldeved by the belief in 
authority, she losea faith in her moral right sad ability to bring 
up her children. Bitterness. A mother m modern society, Hke 

EUO insects who go away and die wlu-n the lias done bet duty 
in the propagation of the race. 1 Love of life, of home, of husband 
an. I children and family. Here and there a womanly shaking-off 
of her thoughts. Sudden return of anxiety and terror. She must 
bear it all alone. The catastrophe approaches, inexorably, inevi- 
tably. Despair, conflict, and destruction. 

(Krogstad has acted dishonourably and thereby become well- 
to-do; now his prosperity does not help him, he cannot recover his 
honour.) 2 

Persons 

Stenborg, a Government clerk. 

Nora, his wife. 

Miss (Mrs.) Linde (a widow). 

Attorney Krogstad. 

Karen, nurse at the Stenborgs*. 

A Parlour-Maid at the Stenborgs'. 

A Porter. 

The Stenborgs' three little children. 

Doctor Hank. 






SCENARIO. FIRST ACT 



A room comfortably, bid not showily, furnished. In the back, on the 
rigid, a door leads to the hall ; on the left another door leads to the 
room or office of the master of the house, ichich can be seen when the 
door is opened. A fire in the stove. Winter day. 

She enters from the back, humming gaily ; she is in outdoor dress and 
carries several parcels, has been shopping. As she opens the door, 
a Porter is seen in the hall, carrying a Christmas-tree. She : Put it 
down there for the present. (Taking out her purse.) How muchf 
Porter : Fifty ore. She : Here is a croicn. No, keep the change. The 
Porter thanks her and goes. She continues humminp and smiling 
with quiet glee as she opens several of the parcels she has brought. 
Calls off, is lie at home t Yes I At first, conversation through the closed 
door ; then he opens it and goes on talking to her while continuing to 
work most of the time, standing at his desk. There is a ring at the hall- 

> The sentence U elliptical in the oriRinnl. 

» Ibsen's Workshop, pp. 91-9*. Copyright, 1911, by Chas. Scribner's Sons. New York. 



472 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

door ; he does not want to be disturbed ; shuts himself in. The maid opens 
the door to her mistress's friend, just arrived in town. Happy surprise. 
Mutual explanation of the position of affairs. He has received the post 
of manager in the new joint-stock bank and is to enter on his duties 
at tlw New Year; all financial worries are at an end. The friend has 
come to town to look for some small employment in an office or what- 
ever may present itself. Mrs. Stenborg gives her good hopes, is certain 
that all will turn out well. The maid opens the front door to the debt- 
collector. Mrs. Stenborg, terrified ; they exchange a few words ; he is 
shown into the office. Mrs. Stenborg and her friend; the circumstances 
of the debt-collector are touched upon. Stenborg enters in his overcoat; 
has sent the collector out the other way. Conversation about the friend's 
affairs; hesitation on his part. He and the friend go out; his wife fol- 
lows them into the hall; the Nurse enters with the children. Mother 
and children play. The collector enters. Mrs. Stenborg sends the chil- 
dren out to the left. Great scene between her and him. He goes. Sten- 
borg enters; has met him on the stairs; displeased; wants to know 
what he came back for ? Her support f No intrigues. His wife cau- 
tiously tries to pump him. Strict legal answers. Exit to his room. She 
(repeating her words wlien the collector went out) : But that's impossi- 
ble. Why, I did it from love I 

SCENARIO. SECOND ACT 

The last day of the year. Midday. Nora and the old Nurse. Nora, 
impelled by uneasiness, is putting on her things to go out. Anxious 
random questions of one kind and another give a hint that thoughts of 
death are in her mind. Tries to banish these thoughts, to turn it off, 
hopes that something or other may intervene. But what f The Nurse 
goes off to the left. — Stenborg enters from his room. Short dialogue 
between him and Nora. — The Nurse re-enters, looking for Nora; the 
youngest child is crying. Annoyance and questioning on Stenborg' s 
part; exit the Nurse; Stenborg is going in to the children. — Doctor 
Hank enters. Scene between him and Stenborg. — Nora soon re- 
enters; she has turned back; anxiety has driven her home again. Scene 
between her, the Doctor and Stenborg. Stenborg goes into his room. — 
Scene between Nora and the Doctor. The Doctor goes out. — Nora 
alone. — Mrs. Linde enters. Short scene between her and Nora. — 
Krogstad enters. Short scene beticeen him and Mrs. Linde and Nora. 
Mrs. Linde goes in to the children. — Scene between Krogstad and 
Nora. — She entreats and implores him for the sake of her little children; 



SCENARIOS 473 

in vain. Krogstad goes out. The letter {3 seen to fall from outside into 
the lettvr-box. — Mrs. Linde re-enters after a short 'pause. Scene be- 
'i her and Nora. Half confession. Mrs. Linde goes out. — 
Nora alone. — Stenborg enters. Scene between him and Nora. He 
wants to empty the letter-box. Entreaties, jests, half playful persua- 
sion. He promises to Id business wait till after New Year's Day; but 
at 12 o'clock midnight — ! Exit. Nora alone. Nora (looking at the 
clock): It is fire o'clock. Fire; — seven hours till midnight. Twenty- 
four hours till the next midnight. Tweniy-four and seven — thirty- 
one. Thirty-one hours to live. — 

THIRD ACT 

A muffled sound of dance music is heard from the floor above. A 
lighted lamp on the table. Mrs. Linde sits in an armchair and ab- 
sently turns the pages of a book, tries to read, but seems unable to fix 
her attention; once or twice she looks at her watch. Nora comes down 
from the dance; uneasiness has driven her; surprise at finding Mrs. 
Linde, wlio pretends that she wanted to see Nora in her costume. 
H timer, displeased at her going away, comes to fetch her back. The 
Doctor also enters, bid to say good-bye. Meanwhile Mrs. Linde has 
gone into the side room on the right. Scene between the Doctor, Helmer, 
and Nora. He is going to bed, he says, never to get up again; they are 
not to come and see him; there is ugliness about a death-bed. He goes 
out. Helmer goes upstairs again with Nora, after the latter has ex- 
changed a few words of farewell with Mrs. Linde. Mrs. Linde alone. 
Then Krogstad. Scene and explanation between them. Both go out. 
Nora and the children. Then she alone. Then Helmer. He takes the 
letters out of the letter-box. Short scene; goodnight; he goes into his 
room. Nora in despair prepares for the final step; is already at the 
door when Helmer enters with the open letter in his hand. Great scene. 
A ring. Letter to Nora from Krogstad. Final scene. Divorce. Nora 
leaves the house. 1 

Finally, here is the full scenario of a play which made 
a great success both in England and the United States 
and was seen by practically all the Continental countries, 
namely, Kismet. Notice how well it fulfils the requirements 
for a good scenario stated in this chapter, not because Mr. 
Knobloch had these rules in mind as he composed it, but 

» Ibten'$ Workthop, pp. 93-95. 



474 



DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 



because, as a trained dramatist, he instinctively gave these 
qualities to his scenario. Carefully studied in relation to the 
essentials of scenario writing just stated, it should remove 
all doubt in the mind of a student as to what a good scenario 
is and why it is an essential preliminary to a good play. 

KISMET 

or 
HAJJI'S DAY 

Scenario for a play in three acts, by 
EDWARD KNOBLOCH « 



CHARACTERS 



(in order 
Original Names 



Hajji. 



A Priest. 

Guide. 

Sheikh of the Desert. 

Young Beggar. 

Sultan. 

His Vizier. 

Shopkeeper I. 

Shopkeeper II. 

Zira. 

Old Woman I. 

Officer of Guard. 

Executioner. 

His Scribe. 

Old Woman II. 

Executioner's Wife. 

Gaoler. 

Peasant. \ Trial scene 

Two Wives. ) Sultan*s. 

Dancers, Soldiers, Courtiers, 



of their appearance) 

Later Names 

Hajj (as Hajji is Persian, Hajj 
Arabian). 

Imam Mahmud. 

Nasir. 

Jawan. 

Kasim. 

The Caliph Abdallah. 

Abu Bakr. 

Amru. 

Fayd. 

Marsinah. 

Narjis. 

Captain of the Watch. 

Mansur, Chief of Police. 
C Turned into two characters: 
< Kafur, the Sworder. 
(. Afife, the Hunchback. 

Kut-Al-Kulub. 
Kutayt. 

■j Cut out in final draft. 

Women, the People. 



* Printed by permission of Mr. Knobloch from his own manuscript. 



SCENARIOS 475 

ACT I 

IM later introduced before the curtain.] 
Scene 1. A Street before a Mosque. 
Scene 2. The Bazaar. 
Scene 3. Courtyard of a Poor Uouse. 
Scene ±. Courtyard of Executioner's Uouse. 

ACT n 

Scene 1. Interior Room of Executioner's House. 

Scene 2. Courtyard of a Poor House. (Act 7, Scene 3.) 

Scene 3. The Sultan's Audience Hall. 

Scene 4. A Dungeon. 

ACT m 

Scene 1. Courtyard of a Poor House (Act 7, Scene 3) [cut in final 

version]. 
Scene 2. The Bath of the Executioner's House. 
Scene 3. A street before a Mosque. (Act 7, Scene 1.) 

The Scene is laid in Bagdad. 

The action takes place from morning to night. 

ACT I 
SCENE 1 

A narrow street with stone steps leading up to a Mosque left. (Small 
set.) 

The sun is just beginning to rise. 

Asleep on a large stone which juts out from the angle of the wall C. 
sits Hajji wrapped in his beggar's cloak. On the minaret of the Mosque 
appears the priest, a venerable white bearded man. He calls to prayer. 
[See alterations in actual play.] 

The crowd begins to pass into the Mosque as the sun rises. Hajji 
wakes up, rubs his eyes, and has a drink of water from a gourd which 
he draws out from behind his seat. He begins to beg from the pass- 
ers-by. 

An Old Man (Jawan) preceded by a guide (Nasir) is carried across 
the scene in a litter. He fixes his gaze on Hajji and is carried off into 
the Mosque. The guide remains in the portico. Hajji follows the Old 
Man on his knees to Hie steps of the Mosque, begging. 



476 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

As he does so a lean Beggar of a younger cast of countenance takes 
Hajji's place. 

Hajji returns to his seat. 

Hajji. Hajji curses young Beggar. 

Explains young Beggar must be stran- 
ger. 

Who is he that he does not know of 
Hajji? 

He has sat on this seat for thirty years. 
His father has sat there before him. 
His grandfather before him. 
Great pride in his ancestry of beggardom. 
Young Beggar. (Kasim.) The young Beggar tries to retaliate. 

Hajji tells him to go and sit on a seat 
round the corner — "where other swine 
have sat before you." 
He kicks the young Beggar. 
The Guide (Nasir) of the Old Man comes down to interfere. 
The Young Beggar (Kasim) sulks into a corner nursing his kick. 
Hajji. Hajji and Guide get into conversation. 

The Guide. (Kasim.) Guide explains Rich Man here on a pil- 
grimage. 

Is really a famous old Robber Chief, a 
Curd, 

One of the Sheikhs of the desert: all of 
whom were notorious and banished by 
late Sultan (Caliph). 
Sheikh old and dying. 
Come to pray to Allah to restore his son 
to him before he dies (if son still alive). 
[Sultan is used through- Sheikh was attacked by Sultan's troops 

out this scenario — for twenty-five years ago, and his son, then 

which, in play, Caliph is four years old, carried off. 

substituted. Caliph is Hajji says he knows what that means. 

correct, as being Arabian. Had his wife carried off many years ago. 

The title Sultan is of later The only woman he ever loved — really 

origin and of Turkish in- loved. 

fluence.] The Guide: "I know, Hajji, and I pity 

you. 
I have a proposition to make: 



SCENARIOS 477 

I know the Sheikh will give money to 
charity to save his soul just before dying. 
Now if you could predict something to 
him, — 

Say that he will find his son again, — 
The Sheikh will give you money.'' 
And for this advice Guide and Hajji are 
to divide money. 
Hajji agrees to this. 

Prayers are over. 

The crowd disperses coming from the Mosque. 
Sheikh is carried out of the Mosque in his litter. 
Hajji. Hajji throws himself in front of litter. 

Crying out: "Listen to me. 
I can see why you have come. 
You are looking for some one, — your 
son. 

You shall find him. Give me money." 
Sheikh amazed at Hajji's knowledge. 
Hajji says his wits have been sharpened 
through grief and suffering. 
"I had a wife and a son. 
They were stolen by my enemy. 
My son was murdered, 
My wife carried off. 

The swine of a beggar who sat round the 
corner did it. 

He is my enemy. The curse of my life." 
Sheikh holds out purse, chinking it. 
Hajji blesses Sheikh. 
Sheikh bursts out laughing. 
Reveals himself to Hajji. 
He (Sheikh) is his enemy. 
He ran away with Hajji's wife. 
And became a robber under her inspir- 
[Some of this is incor- ing influence. One of a band of robbers 
porated in the scene with that attacked the caravans. 

>.] It is their son (by Hajji's wife) that the 

Sultan captured when he attacked the 
robbers. 



47 8 



DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 



Hajji. (Alone.) 



Laughs at Hajji for blessing him. 
Thanks him ironically. 
Throws the purse and is carried off by 
his men. 

Hajji shouts curses after him. 
And kicks away the money. 
He is torn in two by the hatred for his 
enemy. 
Young Beggar, in corner. And the love of the money. 

What he could do with the money. 
He could do so much for Zira (the 
daughter), 

The pride of his heart, the consolation 
of his old age, 

The one balm to his fatherly heart. 
But his enemy's money? 
Never. 

But Zira? Trinkets for her. Her laugh- 
ter. 

Her smile. 

But the Sheikh's money — The beast 
who robbed him of his wife. 
Who was Zira's mother? No one. A 
dancing girl, a passing whim. The fancy 
of a late spring. 

But his wife — the one that the Sheikh 
took — she was everything. His joy, his 
pride, the first finding of his manhood. 
To the purse: "I'll not touch thee." (He 
jpits at it.) 

He sees some one coming. 
He quickly pockets the purse. 



[This was cut at re- 
hearsals, as halting the 
action,] 



Hajji. 
Guide. 
Young 



The Guide reenters 

Guide comes to claim half of his money. 

Hajji does not know anything of the 

bargain; 

"I saw no purse." 

Guide furious. 

Hajji laughs at him. 

He appeals to young Beggar. 



SCENARIOS 479 

Was there a purse there! 

The young Beggar sides with Hajji. 

Guide off, furious, vowing vengeance. 

Hajji says, "Go thy way in peace." 
Hojju 

Young Beggar. Young Beggar: "What do I get for sid- 

ing with you?" 

"What?" 

"I saw you pick up the purse. 

I heard the agreement: you promised 

him half." 

Hajji says the money was given him, 

not by the Sheikh, but by fate. 

We all have a day in life. 

This is Hajji's day. 

There is a future before him. 

The Sheikh rose from the mud to power 

and riches. 

Why not Hajji? 

Fortune is smiling on him at last. 

He will forsake the seat he has sat on 

these thirty years. 

Go forth into the world. 

What shall he give the Young Beggar? 

His throne and his beggar's cloak. 
[Here the Priest is in- (He instates him in his seat and goes off.) 
troduced in the play to 
heighten the effect at the 
end. Also to make him a 
friend of Hajji's, as Hajji 

sends his daughter to him Curtain 

at the end of the Hareem 
scene. Act HI, Scene l.J 



480 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 



SCENE 2 
The Bazaar. {Large set) 

Shopkeeper I and Shopkeeper II lying outside of adjoining shops. 
They are very friendly. 

Crowd. 

Young Sultan (Caliph) rides through the bazaar on a white donkey. 
His Vizier (Abu Bakr) follows him. Also guards. 

Hajji appears. Political discussion. 

Shopkeeper I. Young Sultan just come through bazaar. 

Shopkeeper II. Hajji regrets he missed seeing him. 

Sultan only been Sultan ten days. 

[Read Caliph for Sultan.] Nephew of old Sultan now dead. 

Young Sultan brought up in a mon- 
astery, 

[In the play, the shop- Said to be a dreamer and a poet, 
keepers have a scene of The real ruler said to be the Executioner, 
explanation before Hajj A favourite of late Sultan, 
enters, — altered when Young man, too, but very strong, 
writing play.] Very cruel and selfish. 

Young Sultan does not see much of 
Executioner (Mansur). 
Supposed to disappear on nightly ex- 
peditions, 

To get to know his people, 
To have some love adventures. 
Has been brought up strictly in monas- 
tery. 

Has never yet, they say, tested the 
" charm of his beard." 

[This altered. See note Hajji listens to all this humbly, 
above. In the play Hajj Sitting almost under the counter, 
enters here.] Then begins to finger stuffs. 

The shopkeeper is going to drive him 

off. 

But Hajji is in earnest. 

Shows his purse. He means to buy. 

Clothes are forthcoming. 

He selects some. 



SCENARIOS 



481 



Shopkeeper No. I. 

and 
Shopkeeper No. II 



[Here Nasir the Guide 
is introduced to give away 
Hajj. This was done 
when the play was revised 
for production.] 



Once he has gone to the bath and the 

barber he will be resplendent — as 

noble as the noblest. 

Hajji asks the price. 

It is very high. 

He begins to bargain. 

Shopkeeper No. II chimes in. 

Hajji pits Shopkeeper No. I against 

No. n. 

They quarrel. 

Hajji fans the quarrel into flame. 
They almost come to blows. 
Hajji escapes with his clothes. 

The shopkeepers notice his escape. 
They combine at once against the com- 
mon enemy. 

Shopkeeper I will go for the guard, 
And have Hajji followed and caught. 
Shopkeeper H to meet him at the Ex- 
ecutioner's to witness against Hajji. 



Curtain 



SCENE 3 

(For "Zira" read "Marsinah.") 

Zira's home. Small courtyard of a poor house. On right side a 
large gate backing to street. Fountain in courtyard. 



Old Woman. 

Zira, the daughter of 
Hajji. 

[Marsinah works. This 
was altered when writing 
play, because of Arabian 
embroidery frame seen 
in the Museum of Tunis.] 



Old woman is spinning. 

Zira is lazily hanging her hand into 

fountain. (She works instead.) 

Old Woman reprimands her for not 

working. 

She has changed in last three days. 

Zira, who hides her wools, says her 

thread has given out. 



482 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

Old Woman will go to bazaar for thread. 

Locks door carefully, going out. 
Zira springs up and goes to the casement in Courtyard and 
then, plucking a rose, throws it out. She then unlocks case- 
ment and goes back to the fountain. 

Young Sultan appears in simple clothes, climbing in. 
Zira. Love scene. 

Young Sultan. His madness to come at daytime. 

Since he saw her first three nights ago 

from neighboring roof-tops cannot rest. 

She asks who he is. 

He is so different from her father. 

His hands so beautiful. 

He has love scene, 

In which they exchange rhymed couplets 

In Arabian Nights fashion. 

He puts a question (line one and two 

rhyming) 

She caps it (line three not rhyming, but 

line four rhyming with one and two). 

The girl is witty but natural. 

This charms the Sultan beyond measure. 

All the women he has had presented to 

him are so stupid. 

She says: "'All the women'!'* Who is 

he? 

He says a simple scribe — brought up 

in a monastery. His uncle wishes him 

to marry. 

He has never loved before, 

Till meeting Zira. 

They embrace. 
Noise of key in gate. They hear noise. 

They separate — He will come back 

after sundown to see her. She gives him 

a rose. Then he will tell her something 

which will surprise her. 

He escapes through the window. 
Zira back to fountain, (to her work). 






SCENARIOS 483 

Old Woman reenters breathless. 

Old Woman. Old Woman says Zira's father is coming. 

Zira. Thing lie has never done during daytime. 

Luckily she saw him as she returned 
from bazaar. 

He was coming out of Public Bath, 
Beautifully dressed. 
They pretend to be busy working. 

Noise of key. 
Hajji arrives, dressed in good clothes, curls trimmed and 
beard combed. 
Hajji. Greetings. 

Zira. Zira admires her father. 

Old Woman. Old Woman sent off to get meal ready. 

Hajji. Hajji has great plans for his daughter. 

Zira. His affection for her profound. 

He plans for her future. 

She is very charming to him, 

As she naturally wishes to hide her love 

affair, and get into his good graces. 

She takes out her guitar. 

Begins to sing to him. 

He sways before her admiringly on his 



Says she is beautiful. 
[This altered in the Her mother was not beautiful, 
writing of play.] Not like his wife that he loved 

Not like his son now dead. 
But she is more beautiful than all, 
The light of his eyes. 
She laughs and sings. 
He claps his hands in ecstasy 
He has great ambitions for her. 

A knock on the door. 
Zira is sent by her father into the inner 
house. 

The Old Woman comes out of house and 
says it will be some pedlar at door. 
She opens. 



484 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

The Officer of the Guard and Guard enter with the Shopkeeper I 

Hajji. Shopkeeper accuses Hajji of stealing 

Shopkeeper. garments he has on. 

Officer. Hajji denies it. 

Shopkeeper will have him taken before 
the Executioner (Mansur). 
Hajji protests. 

He is taken off in spite of his assurances 
that the Shopkeeper is a madman. 
[Re-introduction of Na- 
sir, saying, "I saw no 
purse!" Change made 
during rehearsals] Curtain 

SCENE 4 

Hall in Executioner's House {large set). A colonnade at hack, 
showing courtyard. 

Executioner (Mansur). Executioner very discontented. 
His Scribe (Afife), an Young Sultan means to curtail Execu* 
old man. tioner's prerogatives. 

[Kafur his Sworder, — Executioner was old Sultan's favorite, 
added when play was Scribe and Executioner plan to assas- 
written. This first scene sinate Sultan, 
is enlarged in play by a They need a clever man. 
letter from the Caliph. Whom shall they get? 
See play.] 

Hajji is brought by the Guard, followed by Shopkeeper and 
a Crowd, in which is the Guide of Scene 1. 
Hajji. Hajji accused by Shopkeeper I. 

Executioner. Shopkeeper II bearing No. I witness. 

Scribe. Hajji protests. 

Guide. Meant to pay — Excitement of new 

Shopkeeper I. clothes made him forget. 

Shopkeeper II. Produces money. 

Crowd. Where did he get his money? 

Sheikh of desert. 
They all laugh. 

Sheikh of desert does not give money. 
Sheikhs are outlaws, robbers. 



SCENARIOS 485 

Not allowed in town. 

Hajji says he is in town. 

Notices Guide (Nasir) in crowd. 

Appeals to Guide — 

Guide says it is true that Sheikh is in 

town. 

Then, says Executioner, Sheikh must be 

taken before Sultan. 

All Curds banished by old Sultan. 

Sultan has an audience this afternoon. 

Sheikh an exile (by old Sultan). 

Executioner cannot allow the word of the 

deceased monarch to be disregarded. 

Sends Guide off to show the Guard the 

caravansary at which Sheikh is stopping. 

Hajji interrupts. 

One word. 

He asks Guide did he, the Sheikh, not 

throw Hajji a purse. 

Guide repeating Hajji's words (Scene 1) 

"I saw no purse." 

All laugh. 

Guide off with the Guard. 
[Afterwards, "his hand Executioner orders Hajji to have his 
cut off," as this is the law ears cut off. 
of the Koran. Change Hajji discourses on Fate, Kismet, 
made when writing play.] Is very witty. 

Executioner becomes interested in Haj- 
ji's brilliancy. 

Hajji is pardoned suddenly by Execu- 
tioner. 

Executioner does more. 

He takes Hajji into his household 

Into his personal guard. 

A sword is sent for. 

Hajji kneels in gratitude at the Execu- 
tioner's feet. 

"His servant always." 

The sword is brought in. 

Executioner takes it and hands it to 

Hajji. 



486 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

"Rise, Hajji, and learn to use this sword 
in my service." 
Hajji rises. 

He begs he may begin his career by an 
act of clemency. 
Executioner grants permission. 
Hajji makes the Shopkeepers kneel, for- 
gives them for daring to accuse a serv- 
ant of the Executioner's of stealing — 
tickles their beards with his sword and 
orders them to pay a fine to the Exe- 
cutioner. 

They leave more dead than alive. 
Hajji turns to Executioner. 
B. "Have I begun well?" 
E. "The beginning is nothing. Go now 
and the Captain will instruct you in 
your duties." 

H. {with enormous swagger) "Captain?" 
He goes out, the rest following him. 

The Scribe. Is amazed at Executioner's clemency. 

Executioner. E. " Don't you see why I have pardoned 

him?" 

S. "No, Master." 
E. "This man shall do the deed." 
S. "The deed?" 
E. "Murder the Sultan for me." 
S. "I see." 
(They both turn and look after Hajji who is seen tra* 
versing the courtyard at the back and twirling his mous- 
taches, the servants all bowing low to him.) 

Curtain 



SCENARIOS 



487 



ACT II 

An inner chamber in Executioner* a Rouse. Door leading to Hareem. 
[This is the same hall as at the end of Act I, only that curtains 
are drawn to hide the courtyard.] 



BajjL 

■ut i oner. 

[Coffee and smoking 
suppressed, as both were 
found to be anachronisms. 

[This altered. Eastern 
men do not speak of their 
wives to strangers.] 



[See play. All of this 
scene was split in half, 
and Mansur does not now 
suggest the assassination 
till at the end of the 
second half. The reason 
is clear: Hajj could not 
have a love scene (as he 
does now) if he were 
brooding about the as- 
sassination. This was al- 
tered in rehearsal at the 
ition of Mr. Grim- 
wood, who played Man- 
sur in England.] 



Executioner and Scribe seated on a 

platform drinking coffee and smoking. 

Hajji seated below them entertaining 

them with amorous stories. 

They are all laughing. 

Hajji finishes a story. 

Executioner says it reminds him of his 

principal wife. 

A slight pause. 

The Executioner gives Scribe a look as 

if to say "To business." 

He says to Hajji — 

How would Hajji like to become a great 

power in the state? 

He broaches plan of assassinating the 

Sultan. 

Hajji hesitates. 

Executioner unfolds scheme. 

There is an audience in half an hour. 

Hajji can come as a Fakir. 

Has told Executioner he could juggle — 

used to play tricks at his corner when 

begging. 

Hajji could get close to Sultan and kill 

him. 

No danger to Hajji, 

As the Guards are under command of 

Executioner 

Executioner will be there. 

But, of course, Hajji must under no 

condition recognize the Executioner. 

Hajji feels doubts. 

Executioner fills him full of promises. 

Executioner will be made Sultan. 

Hajji shall become Executioner. 



488 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

Executioner off to put on his armour for 

audience. 

Scribe goes with him. 

Executioner: "Think it over. If you 

don't like it — there is always room for 

a strangled body in the river." 

Hajji (Alone). "So this is why I was pardoned this 

morning? 

Oh, Hajji! What a fool you are! 
And you thought your personal charm 
did it all." 
Hajji. Door of Hareem opens. Old Woman 

Old Woman No II. No. II appears with a note, gives it to 
[Changed to young Hajji. 

slave Miskah. The note Hajji reads it, smiles and nods, 
becomes a message, with Old Woman disappears, 
dialogue between Hajj 
and Miskah] 

Hajji (Alone). "After all I cannot be so utterly with- 

out charm, if this can happen to me." 
He twirls, his moustaches up and looks 
at himself in the blade of his sword. 

Old Woman No. II reenters with veiled woman (Executioner's 
Wife). Old Woman stands guard. 

Hajji. The Wife has seen him from her window. 

Wife. As he crossed the courtyard at noon, she 

lost her heart to him. 

Her husband neglects her. 

She comes to Hajji for sympathy. 

Hajji makes love to her. 

She refuses to unveil, — at least, at once. 

She makes appointment with him. 

To meet him in the Executioner's Bath 

at moonrise. 

All the women bathe then. 

She will leave a little screen unlatched 

that leads to the furnaces under the 

baths. 



SCENARIOS 



489 



Executioner. 

Hajji. 

Scribe. 



These furnaces reached also from rum's 

quarters through the door in the Court. 

(She points it out to him.) 

He can come and see her there in Bath, 

when the other women are back in the 

Hareem. 

The Executioner never returns from the 

Sultan till after supper. 

They hear a noise. 

She withdraws. 

'Hajji struts about in great glee. 
He hears Executioner coming 
He throws himself on his knees and 
prays. 

Executioner returns armed. 
What has Hajji decided? 
Hajji says he has been wrestling in 
prayer. 

He cannot make up his mind to kill Sul- 
tan, a descendant of the Prophet. 
Executioner says he also is a descendant 
of Prophet. 

Hajji is accused of cowardice. 
He denies it. 

He says he has ties that bind him. 
The risk is too great because of his 
daughter, his daughter, Zira. 
He tells about her. 

Finally he consents to kill Sultan on one 
condition. 

No matter what happens to him the 
Executioner must marry the daughter. 
The Executioner consents. 
Hajji is overjoyed. 

He quite forgets his own danger when he 
thinks his daughter will be the Sultana. 
He will hurry off to his daughter's house, 
And have her conveyed to Executioner's 
house after sun-down. 
Too beautiful to pass through the streets 
at day time. 



49o 



DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 



[When the play was 
written, the mid-after- 
noon call to prayer was 
introduced here as a 
Curtain.] 



Begs for a guard to convey her. 

Once he has arranged with her he will 

come on to young Sultan's palace, — 

"The Sultan who will be dead. Who 

is dead!" 

He hurries off in great exultation. 



Curtain 



SCENE 2 

ZMs home. Same scene as Scene 3, Act I. Small courtyard. 
Zira sits with her guitar singing a love song. 



Zira. 

Old Woman. 
[Cut when play was 
written.] 



Hajji. 

Zira. 

Old Woman, 



[Altered during rehear- 
sal. The guard, — eu- 
nuchs of Mansur — take 
the daughter away at 
once. Hajj remains on 
the scene, smiling in a 
self-satisfied fashion.] 



Zira tries to get the Old Woman to go 

out that night. 

Old Woman suspicious. 

Zira calms her fears. 

Coaxes her, pets her. 

Hajji arrives. 

Hajji has come to break news to Zira. 

Great news! 

He is going to give her to Executioner 

as wife. 

Zira dumb with horror. 

Violent scene of cursing and cajoling. 

Finally she rebels. 

The Old Woman agrees with Hajji 

whenever he appeals to her. 

He finally calls in the Guard, and makes 

them guard door. 

At sundown they are to take the girl to 

Executioner's house. 

Ungrateful child! 

Zira in tears. Hajji off. 



Curtain 






SCENARIOS '491 

SCENE 3 

The Sultan* s Audience Hall (The Caliph's Diwan). (Large set.) 

Sultan if rated on a Divan. 

His Vizier by his side. 

Dances of Women. 

Sultan melancholy. He says to Vizier thai all these dances are 
not fiing to the faded rose in his hand. 

Hour for audience strikes. 

The women dismissed. 

The gales are opened to the crowd. 

The various dignitaries enter. 

The Executioner and tlie Guard come and kneel to the Sultan. 

Different cases for trial called. 

First of all the old Sheikh is called. 

His whereabouts have been ascertained through the Guide. 

The Sheikh is carried in on his litter and with greatest difficulty 
descends to do obeisance to the Sultan. 

Sultan. Sultan asks him how he, an exile, dare 

Sheikh. enter the city, defying the decree of his 

Executioner. late uncle. 

Crowd, etc. Sheikh says he came on peaceful mission, 

not to rob. 

He is old; one of many robbers. No 
longer of consequence. 
Came to pray at shrine and give alms, 
the shrine where he had prayed in his 
youth. 

Invokes protection of High Priest. 
Sultan says Sheikh must be imprisoned. 
If High Priest proves that Sheikh came 
to give alms and to repent, he shall be 
released forthwith. 

Meanwhile, for his many sins, a short 
repentance in prison will not be harm- 
ful to his soul. 
The Goaler comes forward and with two guards drags the 
lame man off. The Sheikh goes, blessing the Sultan for his 
wisdom and justice. The Sultan says : " Send to the High 
Priest at once to see if this old man spoke true.** 



492 



DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 



Sultan. 

A Peasant with Two 
Wives. 

[This scene was cut at re- 
hearsal, as having noth- 
ing to do with the story. 
Instead of which, Hajj 
was introduced by a 
speech of Mansur's. See 
play.] 



This 'should be some comic trial with 
a difficult question to solve. Such as: 
"Should a man honour his first wife 
more — who is old and ugly, but de- 
voted — or his second wife whom he 
mistrusts but adores for her beauty?" 
Or something of the kind drawn from 
Arabian Nights. 



The Sultan is puzzled. 

He has no answer. 

Who can solve the riddle ? 



Hajji. 

Sultan. 

Others 



[Cut:] 



I tat 

|Pr< 

is, 

I of 



Hajji, pushing through the crowd, — "Let me, oh Sire/** — throws 
himself before Sultan. 

Hajji decides in a witty, whimsical way. 
The Sultan amused by him. Who is he? 
Hajji says he is a Fakir. 
He plays some tricks. 
'While doing one, addresses the Execu- 
tioner as a slave, asking him to bring a 
table. 

Pretends not to know who Executioner 
and begs his pardon when he is told 
his rank. 
He then gets near the Sultan. 
Does a trick with a sword. 
Tries suddenly to stab the Sultan. 
The Sultan wears a coat of mail. 
The assassination has failed. 
Hajji is surrounded at once. 
He is to be cut to pieces. 
The Sultan says "Stay! 
This man shall be made an example of. 
I have heard there are rumours of sedi- 
tion, and conspiracies against my person. 
Therefore I wear this coat of mail. 
I shall have this man burnt in my pleas- 
ure gardens tomorrow and the public 
shall be admitted to the spectacle. 






SCENARIOS 493 

This shall show conspirators I am in 
earnest; mean to uphold my uncle's 
policy. 

Take this man away." 
Hajji appeals, he turns to the Execu- 
tioner. 

The Executioner says he does not know 
him. 

Hajji says he does. 

He can prove it. He was in the house 
of the Executioner. In his pay. 
Executioner: "The man is mad." 
The Sultan fixes Executioner with his 
eye. 

Sultan says he will sift matter to bottom. 
Hajji shall be tortured 
The truth shall be wrung from him. 
[Hajj is gagged here:] "At once?" asks the Gaoler. 

Sultan: "No — let him starve the night 
first." 

Tonight (smelling the rose) Sultan has 
other affairs of import to tend to. 
Tomorrow (with a meaning look) he ex- 
pects the Executioner to carry out the 
tortures himself. 
The Executioner bows. 
(ToGoaler) "Take the man away!" 
Hajji is dragged off, screaming. 
The Sultan to his Vizier: "Oh Mesrur! 
Mesrur! (Abu Bakr) When does the 
sun set?" 

"Another half an hour, sire." 
"Half an hour! Oh, would it were that 
now! 

Why can I not make the sun set — I — 
the Sultan? 
Bring forward the next case." 

Curtain. 



494 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

SCENE 4 

A Dungeon. A massive door at the back leads to an endless flight 
of shallow steps. It is dark : Hardly any light except from one barred 
window high up: through this come the rays of the setting sun. 

The Sheikh is alone in one corner saying his prayers. He then Ues 
down and goes to sleep. 

The Gaoler opens the door. 

Hajji is thrown in and chained. 

Hajji alone. Repentance. 

Curses every one. 
Raves. 

If only he hadn't received money that 
morning, he would not have been tempted 
to steal. 

If he had not stolen, he would not have 
been taken to the Executioner. 
If he hadn't been taken to the Execu- 
tioner, he would not have been driven 
to kill the Sultan. 

The Sheikh is the cause of all his mis- 
fortunes. 
He stole his wife. 
He killed his son. 
Now he is killing him. 
Cursed be the Sheikh! 

The Sheikh from the "Who uses my name in vain?" 
corner : 

Hajji. Hajji recognizes him. 

Sheikh. What is he doing there? 

Sheikh says he is condemned to prison 

by Sultan. 

Hajji delighted. 

Says this is his only consolation in his 

trouble. 

Never a sorrow without a grain of joy. 

Joy to see his enemy suffer. 

He could almost feel friendly towards 

Sheikh, when he thinks how they will be 

executed together. 



SCENARIOS 



495 



[Sheikh's story of the How strangely their lives have been 
bfloken coin and his lost interwoven, 
son introduced here. See They talk of the dead woman they have 



play. 

Allusions to wife were 
cut as unnecessary to the 
story.] 



shared. 

She is dead now. 

Better so. She would have been old and 

ugly now. 

Sheikh says: "She developed a bad 

temper." 

Hajji furiously: "That was your fault. 

She was the sweetest tempered creature 

when she was mine. You ruined her, 

body and soul. 

You fiend you — but no matter. You 

will be tortured tomorrow." 

He shrieks with delight. 
Gaoler reenters with a decree and a soldier carrying some 
instruments of torture. 
Gaoler. Gaoler says that it has been found that 

Sheikh. Sheikh did come on a pilgrimage. 

Hajji. The High Priest has testified in his 

favor. 
Soldier. Therefore the Sultan forgives him. 

He is free, but must leave the city at 

once and never return. 

Sheikh asks Gaoler to thank Sultan. 

Would go — but his limbs are too weak. 

Could Gaoler send for his litter? 

Gaoler says he fears Sheikh's litter gone, 

but could procure him a chair out of 

Sultan's palace used to convey the 
[Changed to a stretcher lesser women of the Hareem when Sul- 
used to "carry away the tan travels, 
dead." Alteration made Sheikh gives Gaoler money, 
when play was written.] Gaoler now turns to Hajji. 

Says he is to come to him. 

Makes him kneel down. 

Hajji: "I am free too, am I?" 

Gaoler: "Free? Here! (turns to Soldier 

and takes a casket from him and is about 
[The torture was cut to put it on Hajji' s head). Sometimes 



496 



DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 



as too long and too ugly. 
Altered during rehearsal. ] 



[All this cut. Instead 
of which, the Gaoler 
strikes Hajj with his key 
which makes Hajj faint.] 



Hajji. 
Sheikh. 



[When the play was 



these head screws and thumb screws 
don't fit. There must be no hitch in the 
performance tomorrow." 
"Head screw?" says Hajji, trembling. 
Gaoler tears off Hajji's turban and 
tries on the torture helmet. 
Gaoler: "Does it feel comfortable?" 
Hajji: "Comfortable!" 
Gaoler: "It ought to. It's just as if 
it had been made for your Highness." 
(Takes it off, laughing loudly ; the soldier 
joins politely.) 

Gaoler (to Sheikh): "I'll see to your 
Excellency's chair." 
Gaoler and Soldier off with instruments. 
Hajji is on the floor, more dead than 
alive. 

Hajji bemoans his fate. 
Why should he have to suffer, and 
Sheikh be pardoned, when Sheikh is the 
cause of all of Hajji's woe? 
Here is Sheikh, an old robber chief, 
forgiven. 

Here is Hajji, a simple, honest beggar, 
to be tortured and burnt. 
Who is dependent on the Sheikh? 
He has lost his son — has never found 
him again — he may be dead. 
No one dependent on Sheikh. 
But Hajji has a daughter dependent on 
him. 

A daughter! And the sun is setting. 
And at this hour she is being takeu to 
the Executioner! 

The Executioner who has so cruelly for- 
saken Hajji. 

His daughter going to him, with Hajji 
powerless — and the Sheikh to live. 
It is unjust, cruel, not to be borne. 
"It shan't be borne — it — " 
He gives the Sheikh an awful look. 



SCENARIOS 497 

written, the Snaking of The Sheikh realizes his thoughts and 

the chains was intro- draws his knife. 

duced here.] Hajji springs at him, overpowers him, 

and cuts his throat. 

The Sheikh's last words: "My son! My 

son!" 

A moment's thought — then Hajji 

wipes the knife on his own turban (torn 

off by Gaoler). 

Quickly he exchanges clothes with the 

dead man. 

Puts on his turban 

Then rifles pockets. 

Finds round the dead man's throat a 

chain with the broken half of a coin. 

Slips it over his own neck. 

He puts the dead body into the corner 

where he (Hajji) lay when the Gaoler 

left the dungeon. 

He hears the tread on the steps. 

He assumes the old man's attitude. 

The sunlight has died out: the scene 

grows quite dark. 
The Gaoler reenters with the Soldier and a cliair borne by 
two porters. They lift Hajji into the chair. Then take 
up the chair and carry it up the broad stone stairs. 
Gaoler. (Turning to the dead body.) "Why not laugh tonight, 
Hajji? Tomorrow morning will be time enough to weep, when you 
are tortured in the Pleasure Gardens of the Prophet's descendant." 
(He kicks the body, then goes out laughing, and locks the door.) 

Curtain. 

ACTHI 
SCENE 1 

[This scene (suggested by a friend) was entirely cut before 
rehearsals began.] 

Zira's house. Same scene as Act 7, Scene 3. Small courtyard. 
The sun has just set. It is dusk. 
The gate is opened from the street. 



498 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

Old Woman I (Narjis) enters, locks the gate, and lights a lamp. 

Knocking at the gate. 

Old Woman I opens the gate. 

The two porters bring in the chair. 

Hajji gets ovt, bent double, and trembling. 

He pays the porters: they withdraw. 

The Old Woman says: " Who are you f " 

Hajji. Hajji throws back the shawl. 

He reveals himself, asks for food and 

his daughter. 

Old Woman I. 'Hajji! " 

Hajji explains that he must escape: 

Leave the city at once. 

Too long to explain. 

He can never come to Bagdad again. 

Old Woman to bring his daughter at once, 

Old Woman says she has just taken 

daughter to Executioner's house. 

Hajji: "I said not before sundown" 

" It is sundown." 

Hajji curses Old Woman. 

Says that it is her fault that he took 

his daughter to Executioner. 

"My fault?" says she. 

"Yes! You urged me on. 

You agreed with me. 

If I have lost her, you are to blame. 

But I can't lose her. 

I must risk everything. 

I must get her out of his clutches." 

WTiere did Old Woman leave her? 

With principal wife. 

An idea! 

He had appointment with wife in bath 

at moon rise — 

He will go. 

If it costs him his life, he must try to 

get his daughter. 

He goes to door; as he does so, there is 

Joiocking at door from without. 



SCENARIOS 



499 






They have found him. 

What shall he do? 

Old Woman opens lattice in Courtyard. 

"Escape that way! 

When I was young many a time my 

lover came through that window." 

Haj ,i off through window. 

More knocking at door. 
Old Woman opens. 
Sultan. Sultan enters, splendidly attired. 

Vizier Has come to claim his bride. 

and a Guard, Old Woman amazed. 

Old Woman* Is he not the Sultan? 

She has seen him the day of his entry 

into the town. 

Sultan: "You have guessed. Bring 

forth Zira!" 

Alas! Zira not here. 

At Executioner's house. 

Her father has destined her for Execu- 
tioner. 

Sultan furious. 

When was she taken there? 

Not an hour ago. 

Sultan will go to Executioner's house. 

The Old Woman I is to lead the way and 

show the entrance she took the girl to. 

Curlain. 

SCENE 2 
[In the play Act EQ begins here.] 

The Bath in the Executioner's house. {Large set.) 

Up five marble steps {almost fifteen feet up stage) a colonnade. Be- 
yond it a courtyard, with a large swimming bath. The front part of 
the stage, couches and pierced screens. Door right to women's apart- 
ments, door left to men's apartments. 

Early moonlight in the courtyard beyond the columns. Hanging 
lamps in the front part of the bath. 

Women are robing and disrobing. Some are swimming in the tank. 
Laughter and chatter. 




500 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

Principal Wife. Wife at her toilet. 

Old Woman II (Miskah.) Old Woman helping. 

Has Hajji not come back yet? 
"No sign," says Old Woman. 
Has been to outer gate twice. 
Only person there a young woman 
Guarded by two soldiers (eunuchs). 
Weeping this last half hour. 
They say she has been brought by Ex- 
ecutioner's orders. 
"Another woman? 
Have her brought here!" 
Old Woman takes order to doorkeeper 
. at door L. 
Principal Wife goes to top of steps and orders the other 

women to dress and retire. 
The women swim to the right end of the bath. The talk is 

silenced. 
Zira is brought in by the slave doorkeeper, followed by the 
Old Woman II. 
Wife. Wife : " What have we here? " 

Zira. She abuses girl. 

Old Woman II. Ill treats her. 

[This scene enlarged Leads off into inner chamber of slaves, 
during rehearsal. Marsi- Zira in tears goes off by colonnade right 
nah (Zira) does not leave with the Old Woman, 
the stage, but veils. See 
play.] 

Wife. "I'll soon break your spirit!" 

The door left opens. 

The Executioner enters in a bad humour 

Executioner. Wife: "This is an unexpected delipht! 

Wife. So early? Did the Sultan not keep you 

to supper?" 

Executioner: "What are you doing in 
the bath at this time of night? " 
W. "I was but waiting for you to ask 
what you wish done with the new slave." 
E. "What new slave?" 
W. "The woman who has just arrived, 
guarded by two of your men." 



SCENARIOS 



5oi 



[This altered. Marsi- 
nah has not left the 
stage. See note above.] 



The Doorkeeper. "The men you dis- 
patched with Hajji, sir, this afternoon." 
E. "Oh, that woman!" 
I shall have her strangled." 
Wife agrees. 
Says girl a slut. 

Executioner finds his wife agrees with 
him to such an extent that he thinks the 
girl must be beautiful. 
Rings a bell. 

Old Woman II comes from Colonnade. 
He orders her to bring Zira. 
The wife tries to interfere. 
Executioner angry. 

Wife wonders why he is in such an angry 
mood. 

Because he may lose his head any mo- 
ment. 

"Lose his head?" she asks. 
"Yes. This new Sultan— " 

Zira is brougJU in from R. on steps by Old Woman. Zira is veiled. 

Executioner. Executioner orders her to unveil. 

Zira. She hesitates. 

Wife. He tears the veil from her face. 

Old Woman. He sees she is beautiful. 

Says to his wife that she has lied. 

"Go, get the girl ready. 

I will come to her as soon as I have had 

my bath. 

Until tomorrow, at least, I shall enjoy 

life. 

After that — who knows? " 

He goes off up the Colonnade to left. 

Wife orders Old Woman to take the girl away with her again. 

Zira goes off by small door right with Old Woman. 

There is a tapping sound on a screen on the right side. 

Wife. "Hajji!" 

Wife goes and opens screen in the wall right. Hajji enters. 
Wife. Wife tells him to be quiet. 

Hajji. Executioner near at hand. 



502 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

Expects an amorous embrace. 

Hajji says there is no time for love 

making. 

He has come about his daughter. 

W. "Your daughter?" 

H. "Yes. Zira — She came here for the 

Executioner. Has he seen her? Has he 

gone in to her?" 

W. "So she's your daughter? 

I have you to thank for this creature, 

Another rival." 

Hajji wants to know where the girl is. 

Can't Wife bring her out here and let 

the girl escape with him. 

W. "Escape?" 

H. "In that way you can get rid of a 

rival." 

W. "And be strangled myself?" 

He urges her. 

If she won't let the girl escape, at least 

won't she take the girl to a sanctuary? 

Sanctuary? What for? 

To get her out of the way — away 

from Executioner. 

Why not take her to the Mosque? 

The Mosque of the Carpenters, where 

the venerable priest is? 

He entreats Wife by the love she has for 

him. 

Points out the dangerous charm of his 

daughter. 

She will prove a great rival. 

Wife is torn between jealousy and fear 

for her own life. 

H. "You can say you took her to the 

Sanctuary for purification — Take her 

there!" 

They are interrupted. 
The Executioner appears in a thin robe in the colonnade 
with two slaves. Wife escapes rapidly into inner room to 
right. Haffis escape is cut off. He grovels on the floor. 



SCENARIOS 



5°3 



Hajji. 

ttioner. 



[All this much more di- 
rect and brutal in play. 
Change made when play, 
was written.] 



Executioner sees Hajji and dismisses the 
slaves. 

Amazed at Hajji's presence. 
Hajji says he has done everything to get 
back to Executioner. Bribed the Sul- 
tan's Gaoler, faced untold dangers. 
Grovels and at the same time tries to 
find out the Executioner's position in 
regard to the Sultan. 



Has he lost his power? 
What has Sultan done to Executioner? 
Executioner in a boundless rage. 
How dare Hajji come and ask him ques- 
tions? 

How dare he break into the women's 
quarters and then ask for mercy? 
How dare he appeal to the Executioner, 
after betraying him to the Sultan? 
Who was Hajji before the Executioner 
looked with favor on him? 
A swine, an abomination picked out of 
the gutter. 
A cur, a dog, — a — 
He approaches Hajji. 
Hajji hurries up the steps. 
The Executioner is too quick, gets up 
after him and takes Hajji by the throat. 
Doing so, he catches hold of the chain 
with the coin that Hajji stole from 
Sheikh (Act n, Scene 4.) 
Where did Hajji get this? 
Hajji lies, saying it is his. 
It has always been his. 
Executioner produces the other half on 
a massive gold chain. 
Miraculous! 

Hajji must be Executioner's father. 
H. "You — my son?" 
E. "Don't you remember?" 
[This was altered so Executioner tells how he can just re- 



504 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

that Hajji tells the Ex- member his father breaking a coin when 
ecutioner all this. See they were being attacked in the desert, 
Act II, Scene 4, where before he, the boy, was carried away by 
the Sheikh gives Hajji the Sultan's troops, 
the facts.] H. "You mean when I was — Sheikh?" 

E. "Were you Sheikh or just a robber, 
then?" 

H. "Just a robber at the time — just 
a robber — And your mother — do you 
remember her?" 

E. "I have tried to often — Her name 
escapes me." 

H. Mentions name of first wife: 
"Zcenab — whom I loved above all 
things." 

"Zcenab! That was her name!" 
H. "She had eyes like stars; and tall, 
she was tall like a poplar. 
How wonderful is fate! 
So you are her son!" 
E. "Your son." 
Eajji, slowly eyeing him and taking the Executioner's chain. 
H. "And the halves fit! What a splen- 
did chain! What a heavy chain! Hea- 
vier than mine. You have prospered in 
life, my son — " 
E. "My father— " 

H. "Your father, yes. I am your 
father — Come to my arms." 
With that he takes the gold chain round 
the Executioner's neck and twists it 
till the Executioner chokes. Forces him 
down on his knees. 

Then he pushes him backward into the 
bath. Holds him under the water and 
drowns him. "I killed the old rat! I'll 
kill his spawn! Blessed be Allah for this 
day of days." He laughs wildly and 
exultantly. 
There is one more splash, then silence in the bath. 
Knocking on the door left. 



SCENARIOS 505 

Afore knocking. 
Then the door is broken open. 

The Sultan enters with his Guard and Torchbearers, the 
old Woman No. I. following. 
The Sultan. "When is the woman? Where is Zira? 

Search the Hareem!" 

Some of the Soldiers cross into door 

right. 
Sultan. Sultan turns and see Hajji on the steps 

Hajji. by the bath. 

"You?" 

H. "Yes." Allah allowed him to escape 

in order to serve the Sultan. 

S. "Cut him down!" 

H. "Stop! Look first whether I am 

not a good servant. 

Look in the bath!" 

The Sultan looks. 

S. "The Executioner!" 

H. "It was all his fault. 

He drove me to attempt your life." 

Soldiers reenter, bringing in Wife. Other women of the 
Hareem follow. 

Wife. Soldier says Zira not there. 

Sultan. Wife confesses she has sent her to 

Hajji. Sanctuary. 

Old Woman No. I, Hajji begged her to do so. 

S. "Hajji! Ever Hajji! Why should 
he have any say in regard to Zira?" 
H. "She is my daughter." 
S. "Yours!" 

H. "Now say I am not a good servant 
when I serve you with such a daughter. 
Will you stilfkill me?" 
Old Woman No. I testifies he is speak- 
ing the truth, is Zira's father. 
S. "You have attempted my life. 
WTiat would my piety be if I pardoned 
the dagger that tried to kill the de- 
scendant of the Prophet? 



5o6 DRAMATIC TECHNIOUE 

Taking the law into your own hands 

(points to bath) does not wipe out your 

crime. 

But you are the father of Zira, 

The woman whom I mean to make my 

Sultana. 

Her father's blood must not be shed by 

me. 

Go, then, be banished, forgotten! 

Your life is spared — but only under one 

condition. 

Henceforth you shall be as dead to me 

— to your daughter." 

H. "To my daughter? Never to speak 

to her again, to feel her cheek against 

mine? Never? 

S. "I have spoken." 

Hajji tears his clothes, strews ashes on 

his head from the brazier by his side and 

goes out, staggering, by door left. 

The Sultan will go the Mosque to beg 

the High Priest to release Zira from the 

Sanctuary. 

Curtain 



LAST SCENE 

The same as the first scene, Act I. Before the Mosque, moonlight. 
Young Beggar of Act I is seated on the 
seat on which Hajji installed him. 
Hajji enters staggering down the street. 
He stands at the Mosque a moment. 



Wants to enter, then turns away in 

despair. 

Comes to his accustomed seat. 

Young Beggar is there. 
was written.] [The scene As Hajji approaches, the Young Beggar 
with the Young Beggar begins to beg of him. 
is postponed until after Hajji kicks him off the seat and resumes 
the Caliph and Marsinah his old place. 



[Here was introduced a 
scene with the Priest. 
Meccah is to be Hajj's 
goal. Altered when play. 



SCENARIOS 507 

leave. Altered when the Young Beggar alinks away. 

play was written.! Scarcely is Hajji seated when the Sultan 

enters on his white donkey with a torch- 

light procession. 

The Sultan dismounts and knocks at the 

Mosque. 

The Mosque is opened by the Priest. 

The Priest, when he learns it is the Sultan, 

brings out Zira to him. 

The Sultan reveals himself in a verse to 

Zira. 

Zira replies in a rhyme. 

The Sultan conducts Zira to a litter. 

He re-mounts his donkey. 

The procession moves past Hajji. 

Hajji stretches out his hand for alms, 

veiling his face. 

The procession disappears. The street 

grows dark again. 

The Mosque is shut. 

Hajji is left alone in the moonlight. 

He draws out the old gourd from behind 

the stone seat. 

A line of philosophy summing up his day. 

Something, perhaps, on "life and water.** 

He drinks his Jill, puts the gourd away, 

leans back, and goes to sleep, breathing 

regularly. 

Curtain l 

Does not this careful scenario make very clear what are 
the steps in good scenario writing? First comes structure, — 
ordering for clearness and correct emphasis in the story-tell- 
ing. Then, with the scenario kept flexible and subject to 
change till the last possible moment, come many changes 
big and little, for better characterization and more atmos- 
phere — see pp. 461-463. 

» For the play see Kimet, Methuen & Co.. Ltd., London. 



508 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

Finally, more than anything else, as the author puts last 
touches to his scenario, or revises the play he has written 
from it, he scans its details in relation to the probable atti- 
tude toward them of his public. In the relation of that pub- 
lic to his subject and his treatment of it lie the most difficult 
problems of the dramatist. Solving them means the differ- 
ence between the will to conquer and victory. 






CHAPTER X 

THE DRAMATIST AND HIS PUBLIC 

Probably most dramatists have found that any play, 
either as a scenario or a completed manuscript, is not a mat- 
ter of writing but of frequent re-writing. Study From Ibsen* s 
Worksliop or most of the cases cited by Binet and Passy, 1 
and it becomes evident that the first draft of a scenario or 
play is usually made mainly for clearness. That will be 
gained by good construction and correct emphasis. There 
follows a re-writing in which characterization improves 
greatly and dialogue becomes characterizing and attractive 
in itself. Either in this or possible later re-writings, the 
dramatist shapes his material more and more in relation 
to the public he wishes to address, for a dramatist is, after 
all, a sort of public speaker. Unlike the platform orator, 
however, he speaks indirectly to his audience — through 
people and under conditions he cannot wholly control. None 
the less, much if not all that concerns the persuasion of pub- 
lic argumentation concerns the dramatist. This does not in 
any sense mean that an author must truckle to his audience. 
Far from it. Yet no dramatist can work care free in regard 
to his audience. He must consider their natural likes and dis- 
likes, interests and indifferences, their probable knowledge 
of his subject as well as their probable approach to it. As 
Mr. Archer has pointed out : " The moment aplaywright con- 
fines his work within the two or three hours* limit prescribed 
by Western custom for a theatrical performance, he is curry- 
ing favour with an audience. That limit is imposed simply 
by the physical endurance and power of sustained attention 

» U Annie Ptycholofique, 1894. 



510 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

that can be demanded of Western human beings assembled 
in a theatre. Doubtless an author could express himself more 
fully and more subtly if he ignored these limitations; the 
moment he submits to them, he renounces the pretence that 
mere self-expression is his aim." * 

Once for all, what is "truckling to an audience"? When 
an author, believing that the end of his play should be tragic, 
so plans his work that until the last act or even the middle 
of that act, a tragic ending is the logical conclusion, and 
then because he is told or believes that an audience will 
quit the theatre much more contented if the ending be happy, 
he forces a pleasant ending on his play, he is untrue to him- 
self, dishonest with his art, and truckles to his public. A 
very large part of American audiences and many producers 
believe that any play is only mere entertainment and conse- 
quently may and should be so manipulated as to please 
the public even in its most unthinking mood. No man who 
does that is a dramatist. He is merely a hack playwright, 
bribed by the hope of immediate gain into slavish obedience 
to the most unthinking part of the public. 

On the other hand, an author is very foolish if he does not 
remember certain fundamental principles about audiences 
in a theatre. First, no matter what in his material at- 
tracts him, people rather than ideas arouse the interest of 
the general public. Secondly, even yet action far more than 
characterization wins and holds the attention of the great 
majority. These facts do not mean, however, that a drama- 
tist must busy himself only with plays of action or char- 
acterization, foregoing all problems or thesis material. They 
do mean that if he is to write a play of ideas he must recog- 
nize that his task is the more difficult because of his public 
and that he must so handle it through the characterization 
and the action as to make his ideas widely interesting. In 

1 Play-Making, p. 14. William Archer. Small, Maynard & Co. 



DRAMATIST AND PUBLIC 511 

brief, insisting on saying what he wishes to say, he must 
loam to sj)eak in terms his audience will readily understand. 

More than once a play good in itself has gone astray 
because written too much unto the author's self, in the 
o that certain figures have interested him more than 
others and he has forgotten that they are not likely to be in- 
teresting to the public at large and must be made so. For in- 
stanee, a would-be adapter believed that the hero of the 
tale he was dramatizing would remain on the stage the 
hero still, but in action another character, with his songs 
and rough humor, and his constant action, in sharp con- 
tract with the quiet speech and restrained movement of 
the central figure of the story, ran off with the interest. 
Consequently this adaptation, though unusually well done 
in all other respects, went awry. 

Another aspect of the same difficulty is that an author for- 
gets to consider carefully whether something he finds comic 
or tragic will naturally be the same for his audiences. In a 
prize play produced some years ago in Germany, Belinda, 
the author found much comedy in the following situation. 
A rather addle-pated man has for some years been paying 
large sums to a correspondent, a woman as he believes, who 
has been painting his portrait again and again from photo- 
graphs he has sent her. Little by little he has fallen in love 
with this correspondent. The day comes when he is awaiting 
a visit from her with the utmost delight. A servant, who 
knows that the woman is expected, enters looking utterly 
bewildered, and announces her arrival. There walks into 
the room a wizened Jewish picture dealer, who has all these 
years been playing on the vanity of the younger man for his 
own gain. Unfortunately the author forgot that an off-stage 
figure must be made very attractive if sympathy is to go 
with it rather than with a figure seen and known, or that 
the on-stage figure must be very unattractive if sympathy 



512 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

I 

is not to go with it in contrast to a figure unseen. Conse- 
quently, when the Jew walked on he was greeted, not as the 
author expected with shouts of laughter, but with an aghast 
silence and obvious sympathy for the deceived man. Just at 
that point the play began to go to pieces because the author 
had misjudged, or not at all considered, the relation of the 
public to his material. 

Where, perhaps, authors fail with their public more than 
anywhere else is in motivation of the conduct of their char- 
acters. 1 Too frequently a play slips because conduct as ex- 
plained in it, though wholly convincing to the dramatist, 
does not similarly affect his public. It is useless for him to 
say stoutly that he knows the incident happened just in this 
way, or that the audience ought to know better than to 
think it could happen differently. As it is hopeless in life 
merely to protest that you are telling the truth when every- 
body is convinced that you are lying, it is wasted time for 
a dramatist to stand his ground in a matter of motivation if 
he has not succeeded in making that motivation convincing. 
For instance, there suddenly appears in the office of the hero 
of a play a former acquaintance of his, an actress. She has 
come to see him, if you please, even as her act in the theatre 
is playing. That is, simply because she so wished she has 
left the theatre during the performance. Now the dramatist 
may have known of such a case and people unacquainted 
with life behind the curtain may accept the situation, but 
people of the slightest experience in the theatre will know 
that no actor or actress playing an important role is allowed 
to leave during the performance. Instantly the scene be- 
comes improbable for those people — and they are many. 
It must be so motivated as to be a probable exception in 
conduct, or the whole situation must be changed. 

If it be clear that, though a dramatist should never truckle 

1 See pp. 248-276. 



DRAMATIST AND PUBLIC 513 

to his audience, he cannot hope to write successfully unless at 
some time in his composition he revises his material with a 
view to the general intelligence, natural interests, and prej- 
udices of his audience so far as his special subject is con- 
cerned, it is equally true that publics change greatly in their 
tastes. A young dramatist may learn much as to such shift- 
in public taste by watching the revivals of plays once 
very successful. In Shakespeare's day, for instance, the 
public would accept a mingling of the real and unreal with 
equanimity. Today it takes all the genius of Shakespeare to 
make the scenes of the ghost of Hamlet's father convincing. 
In reading Chapman's Bussy d'Ambois, with its strange 
commingling of real figures and ghosts, we today draw back 
disappointed because we feel that what has seemed real be- 
comes with the entrance of the ghost only melodrama sub- 
limated by some excellent characterization and fine poetry. 
As has already been pointed out, in Elizabethan days the 
public found cause for mirth in much which today is painful. 
Watch in performance the scene of Twelfth Night in which 
Toby, the Fool, and Maria deride Malvolio until they almost 
make him believe himself mad, and you have an admir- 
able instance of changed taste. When first produced, it prob- 
ably went with shouts of laughter. Because of sympathy for 
Malvolio it never goes well today. The public no longer 
finds madness unquestionably comic; it has its hesitations 
on practical jokes; it has lost a very little its sure enjoyment 
of drunkenness, especially in women. The day may conceiv- 
ably come of which no one could say, as of the stage of 
our time : " The single expletive * Damn ' has saved many a 
would-be comic situation." 

The attitude of a playwright should not be, " If my public 
ordinarily does not feel about this as I do, I will cut it out 
or make it conform to their usual tastes," but "Knowing 
perfectly what the attitude of the public is toward my ma- 



5H DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

terial, I will not cut it out until I have proved that it is not 
in my power to make the audience feel it as I do." Just here 
lies the worst temptation of the playwright. He who keeps 
his eye more on the money box than artistic self-respect will 
little by little limit his choice of subjects and conventional- 
ize his treatment of them because he is told or believes that 
the public will not stand for this or that. Is it not, however, 
a little strange that almost everything which leading play- 
placers, managers, and actors have in the past twenty-five 
years declared the public would unwillingly accept or would 
not accept at all has since become not only acceptable but 
often popular. Some years ago it was a truism among readers 
of manuscript plays that college life was too limited in inter- 
est to appeal to the general theatre public. Then Mr. Ade's 
The College Widow proved these prophets wrong. After this 
play trailed Brown of Harvard and a half-dozen other college 
plays which, whether good, bad, or indifferent artistically, 
were all warmly received by the public. Another statement 
once accepted in the theatrical world of New York was that 
American audiences no longer cared for farce, but Seven 
Days, followed by a crowding group of successes, changed 
all that. All this was not the result of any sudden revulsion 
on the part of the public, but came because some intelligent 
and clever workman, determining to make his interests and 
his sense of values the public's, labored until he accom- 
plished the task. Forthwith a delighted public begged for 
more and what was declared impossible became the vogue. 
Just at present there is a troublesome convention that the 
American public will not accept anything but farce or 
comedy. This means only that at the moment our writers 
of serious plays are not adept enough to win away large 
audiences from farce and comedy or to build up special au- 
diences for their plays. Nevertheless, sooner or later, they 
or their sucessors will conquer such a public. 



DRAMATIST AND PUBLIC 515 

In curious contradiction to the existing attitude that au- 
diences will like only what they at present like, much advice 
is given as to novelty. "Find something new in substance or 
form and your fortune is made" is the implication. Wherein 
lies novelty of plot has already been explained. 1 Certainly 
the large amount of experimentation which has been going 
on in recent years in one-act plays, two-act plays, or groups 
of one-act pieces bound together by a prologue and an epi- 
logue, has all been well worth while, making as it does for 
greater flexibility of dramatic form. Yet it is unfortunately 
true at the present moment that most audiences prefer a 
three- or four-act play to something in two acts because the 
uninterrupted attention demanded by the last form asks too 
much from them. They prefer the three-act or four-act divi- 
sion to a group of one-act plays tied together by a prologue 
and an epilogue, because mere difference of form has no par- 
ticular attraction for them and they do not willingly shift 
their interest as frequently as a group of one-act plays re- 
quires. Nevertheless there is nothing completely deterrent 
for a dramatist in any of these circumstances; merely cause 
why, in every case, after thinking of the subject in relation 
to himself, he should ultimately consider it with equal care 
in relation to the audience for which he intends it. When, 
too, he is selecting his form he should observe whether 
though attractive to him, it may not be so difficult or re- 
pellent for the general public that another more conven- 
tional form is desirable. If he becomes sure that he cannot 
get his desired effects except in the form first chosen he 
must work until he makes it acceptable to the public or 
put aside his subject. The final test is not: "What ordi- 
narily do the public like in a subject like mine and in what 
form are they accustomed to see my subject treated," but: 
" Can I so present the form I prefer as to make the public 

1 See pp. 62-67. 



ci6 DRAMATIC TECHNIOUE 

like equally with me what I find interesting in my subject?" 
That is, though presentation of a chosen subject should be 
flexible, the central purposes, human and artistic, of the 
play, should be maintained inflexibly. 

Bearing the audience in mind as one writes may affect 
the whole play, but more often it affects details — particu- 
larly order. The scenario of Kismet l has been printed in 
full chiefly that the many changes it underwent in shaping 
it for final presentation might be clear. Among the many 
instances note, in Act II, that in the original form the love 
passage of Hajji followed plotting for the murder. When the 
play was in rehearsal, both actor and author felt at once that 
the sympathy it was necessary to maintain in the audience 
for Hajji would be lost if he turned immediately from 
such bloody plotting to the love scene. For this reason the 
order was changed. Surely there is no harm in such a shift- 
ing, for the story develops just as well and the characteriza- 
tion is as humanly true. This is a perfect illustration of per- 
suasive arrangement. Take now the case of the torturing 
of Hajji, of which much was, made in the original scenario. 
It is changed to the blow with the key because the horror 
of the scene when acted was too great and everything neces- 
sary is accomplished with the key. Here is a change made 
not to please the author but to make the material as treated 
produce in the audience the desired results, yet the change in 
no way interferes with any of the purposes of the dramatist. 
An illustration of the way in which a dramatist standing his 
ground because he is sure of the Tightness of his psychology 
may win over his public is found in La Princesse Georges of 
Dumas fils. So great was the sympathy of the audience with 
Severine in her mortified wifehood that at the original per- 
formance, when she forgave her husband at the end, there 
were many dissenting cries. Dumas fils had foreseen this, 

1 See pp. 474-507. 



DRAMATIST AND PUBLIC 517 

but believing the ending truer to life than any other could 
be, he insisted on it. Ultimately the ending was accepted by 
the public as made necessary by the rest of the play. 

In all this discussion of the difference between truckling to 
an audience and necessary regard for its interests and prej- 
udices, of changing public taste, the important point is that 
until a dramatist has considered his material in relation to 
the public, his play is by no means ready for production. 
Just because the persuasive side of dramatic art is so often 
neglected, play after play goes on the boards in such condi- 
tion that it must be greatly changed before it can succeed. 
Often before these ample changes can be made, the public 
has lost interest in the piece. If a general principle might be 
laid down here it would be something like this. " If you wish, 
first write your play so that to you it is something clear and 
convincing as well as something that moves to laughter or to 
tears. Before, however, it is tried on the stage, make sure 
that you have considered it in all details in so detached a 
way that you have a right to believe that, as a result of your 
careful revising, it will produce with the public the same 
interest, and the same emotions to the same degree as the 
original version did with you." 

Just here arises the ever present query, " Why struggle to 
write what the public does not readily and quickly accept? 
Why not study their unthinking likes and dislikes and give 
them what they want?" Certainly write in that way if it 
brings contentment, as it surely will bring monetary suc- 
cess if the play thus written really hits popular approval. 
However, aiming to hit popular taste is like shooting at a 
shifting target and a play so made may be staged just as 
the public makes one of its swift changes in theatrical mood. 
Of course, too, he who writes in this way is in no sense a 
leader but merely the slave of his public. In any case, his 



518 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

play is but an imitation, not an expression of the author's 
individuality. 

Even would-be dramatists who do not hold the oppor- 
tunist ideas just considered may draw back after reading 
what has been stated in this book, saying: "How difficult 
and painstaking is this art of the drama which I have thought 
so fascinating and spontaneous." Of course, it is a difficult 
art. A good many years ago Sir Arthur Pinero said of it: 

" When you sit in your stall at the theatre and see a play 
moving across the stage, it all seems so easy and so natural, 
you feel as though the author had improvised it. The 
characters, being, let us hope, ordinary human beings, 
say nothing very remarkable, nothing, you think (thereby 
paying the author the highest possible compliment) that 
might not quite well have occurred to you. When you take 
up a play-book (if you ever do take one up) it strikes you as 
being a very trifling thing — a mere insubstantial pamphlet 
beside the imposing bulk of the latest six-shilling novel. 
Little do you guess that every page of the play has cost more 
care, severer mental tension, if not more actual manual labor, 
than any chapter of a novel, though it be fifty pages long. 
It is the height of the author's art, according to the old 
maxim, that the ordinary spectator should never be clearly 
conscious of the skill and travail that have gone to the mak- 
ing of the finished product. But the artist who would achieve 
a like feat must realize that no ingots are to be got out of 
this mine, save after sleepless nights, days of gloom and 
discouragement, and other days, again, of feverish toil the 
result of which proves in the end to be misapplied and has 
to be thrown to the winds." 

Nevertheless, this difficult art remains fascinating; and 
in practice, if rightly understood, it rapidly grows easier. 
In the understanding of any art there must be two stages. 
First comes the spontaneous doing of work very encourag- 



DRAMATIST AND PUBLIC 519 

ing to the author and sufficiently good to warrant a per- 
son more experienced in encouraging him to proceed. 
Then begins the second stage, when he learns what can be 
taught him of technique in his chosen field. It is bound to be 
a time when consciousness of rules first learned and limita- 
tions first perceived make writing far less attractive and 
often so irksome that the worker is tempted to throw his task 
aside for good. He who does not really love his art will cast 
away his work. He who really cares cannot do this. He may 
from the hampering of these newly recognized rules become 
irritable, have his moments of self-doubt and despair, but 
he cannot stop practicing his art. With each new effort, the 
rules which have been so troublesome will become more and 
more a matter of habit. Little by little the writer will gain 
a curious subconscious power of using almost unthinkingly 
the principles he needs, giving no thought to those net 
needed. Then, and then only, will he write with the art that 
conceals art; and it is only when he has attained to delight 
in the difficulties of the art he practices that he is in any true 
sense an artist. 

What ultimately happens is probably this. The critical 
attitude is strong in the scenario period, perhaps predomi- 
nant as the dramatist works out construction, emphasis, pro- 
portion, etc., but when, with the scenario before him, he 
takes his pen in hand, he lets the creative impulse swamp 
completely the critical sense and loses himself in his task. 
Or he reverses the process. He writes in pure creative aban- 
don, until at least an act of a play lies completed before him. 
Then, with his critical training brought to the front, he goes 
over and over the manuscript until what was a pure crea- 
tive effort has been chastened and sublimated by his trained 
critical sense. The main point is: Don't stultify your crea- 
tive instincts by trying to use critical training at the same 
time. As far as possible, let one precede the other. Write 



520 DRAMATIC TECHNIQUE 

creatively. Then correct. Or write with the critical instinct 
strongly to the front until all plans are made. Then forget 
everything except the spirit of creation. Where dramatists 
in training waste their nervous energy and often stultify 
their best desires is in keeping critical tab upon themselves 
as they create. Writing something with pure delight, they 
are suddenly blocked by the critical spirit saying: "This or 
that is bad. You cannot keep this or that as you have writ- 
ten it," and presto! no more creative work that day. Unless 
the critical and creative faculties interwork sympatheti- 
cally and cooperatively, keep them separate. 

Whoever aims to write plays chiefly or wholly because 
he would like fame or money or because he wishes to show 
that he is as strong in one fictional art as another, — the 
story, the essay, the poem, whatever it may be, — in fact 
he who writes plays for any other reason than that he can- 
not be happy except in writing plays, better give over such 
writing. Play-making is an exceedingly difficult art, and in 
so far as it is in any sense a transcript from life or a beauti- 
fied presentation of life past, present, or imagined, it grows 
more difficult as the years pass because of the accumulating 
mass of dramatic masterpieces. Yet for him who cares for 
dramatic writing more than any form of self-expression, no 
time has been more promising than the present. There has 
been more good drama in the past twenty-five years the 
world over than at any time in the history of the stage. It 
has been more varied in subject and form, more individual 
in treatment. The drama is today more flexible, more daring 
and experimental, than ever before. It is in closer relation 
to all the subtlest and most advanced of man's thinking. 
It has been breaking new ways for itself, and it has new 
ways yet to break. All that has been said in this book con- 
cerns merely the historic foundations of this very great art. 
Accept these principles as stated or quarrel with most of 



DRAMATIST AND PUBLIC 521 

them; but realize that any principles, whether accepted from 
others or self-taught, should be but the beginning of a life- 
long training by which the individual will pass from what he 
shares of general dramatic experience to what is peculiarly 
his own expression. 



INDEX OF AUTHORS 



jEscnylus, 155. 

Andreiev, Leonid, 328. 

Archer. William, 45, 50, 55, 61, 78, 

151, 214, 237, 260, 510. 
Augier, Emile, 221. 

Baker, Elizabeth, 223. 

Barker, Granville, 278. 

Beach, Lewis, 219. 

Beaumont and Fletcher, 281. 

Binet and Passy, 47, 49, 76, 78, 339. 

Brieux, Eugene, 301. 

Browning, Robert, 306, 391, 399. 

Brunetiere, Ferdinand, 44. 

Buckingham, George Villiers, Duke 

of, 170, 408. 
Bulwer-Lytton, Edward Robert, 

77, 90, 92, 125, 136, 211, 227, 

339, 344. 

Child, C. G. (Editor), 16, 19. 
Congreve, William, 396, 413. 
Corson, Hiram, 390. 

Davis, Richard Harding, 164. 
Diderot, Denis, 72, 74, 259. 
Dryden, John, 123, 261, 336. 
Dumas fils, 34, 49, 74, 94, 100, 259. 
Dunsany, Lord, 49. 

Eaton, W. P., 249. 
Echegaray, Miguel, 385. 
Euripides, 282. 

Fitch, Clyde, 61, 198, 283. 
Flickinger, Roy C, 125, 141. 

Galsworthy, John, 66, 183, 191, 244, 

375. 
Gildon, Charles, 249. 
Goldsmith. Oliver, 323. 
Gregory, Lady, 162. 



Hapgood, Norman, 58, 243. 
Haraucourt, Edmond, 83. 
Hart, J. A., 48, 71. 
Hauptmann, Gerhart, 164, 193. 
Hazlitt, William, 243. 
Heijermans, Herman, 218. 
Henderson, A., 462. 
Henley, W. E., 27. 
Hervieu, Paul, 192. 
Heywood, Thomas, 345. 
Hobbes, John Oliver, 350. 
Hofmannsthal, Hugo von, 377, 380. 
Houghton, Stanley, 324. 

Ibsen, Henrik, 51, 151, 179, 181, 183, 

233, 259, 348, 349, 419, 421, 470. 

Irving, Sir Henry, 25, 197, 290, 362. 

Jones, Henry Arthur, 265, 279, 351, 

395. 
Jonson, Ben, 235, 289. 

Kennedy, Rann, 122. 
Knobloch, Edward, 474. 
Kyd, Thomas, 370. 

Labiche, Eugene, 131, 173. 

Le Clerc, M. E., 352. 

Lessing, Gotthold Ephraim, 9, 68, 

114, 121, 212, 247, 255, 291. 
Lillo, George, 131, 335, 337. 

Macleod, Fiona, 65. 
Maeterlinck, Maurice, 38. 
Marlowe, Christopher, 35, 128. 
Matthews, Brander, 19. 
Meredith, George, 117. 
Middleton, Thomas, 85, 284. 
Moody, W. V., 379. 
Moreau, Adrien, 163. 
Moulton, R. G., 18, 154. 
Mushakoji. J., 316. 



524 



INDEX OF AUTHORS 



Ostrovsky, Aleksander Nikolaevich, 
86. 

Phillips, Stephen, 222. 

Pinero, Sir Arthur, 6, 15, 106, 107, 

222, 255, 258, 291, 292, 378, 382, 

383. 
Pinski, David, 330. 
Polti, Georges, 63. 

Racine, Jean, 168. 
Reade, Charles, 393. 
Riddle, George, 368. 
Robertson, Thomas William, 29. 
Rostand, Edmond, 36, 225. 
Rowley, William, 345. 

Sardou, Victorien, 163. 

Savage, Henry, iii, 69. 

Selwyn, Edgar, 81. 

Shakespeare, William, 23, 31, 97, 
101, 139, 142, 166, 185, 215, 268, 
332, 358, 369, 385, 406. 409. 



Shaw, George Bernard, 299. 
Sheldon, Edward, 341. 
Steele, Richard, 134. 
Stevenson, Robert Louis, 27. 
Sudermann, Hermann, 226, 229. 
Synge, John Millington, 417. 



Taylor, Tom, 220, ! 
Tennyson, Alfred, 

362. 
Terence, 170, 171. 
Thomas, Augustus, 



Lord, 195, 290, 



189. 



Vanbrugh, Sir John, 297, 395. 
Voltaire, Francois Marie Arouet de, 
113. 

Webster, John, 267, 285, 303, 384. 
Wilde, Oscar, 187, 230, 231, 388, 
389, 402, 403, 404, 410. 

Young, Charles, 374. 



INDEX OF QUOTATIONS 



Amazons, The, Act in, 222. 

Ambassador, The, 350. 

Ancient Classical Drama, The, 18, 

154. 
Anne, 159. 

As a Man Thinks, Act n, 189. 
At the New Theatre, 249. 
At the Top of the Tenement, 424. 
Auteurs Dramatiques, see L'Annee 

Psychologique. 

Barbara Frietchie, 61. 

Barnwell. The History of George, see 

The London Merchant. 
Becket, arranged by Henry Irving, 

25, 197, 290, 362. 
Becket, Tennyson, 195, 290, 362. 
Big Drum, The, Preface, 258. 
Blind, The, 38. 
Browning, Introduction, Corson, 

390. 

Captain, The, Scenario, 459. 

Case of Rebellious Susan, The, Act 
i, 351. 

Chains, Act m, 223. 

Changeling, The, 85. 

Chaste Maid in Cheapside, A, 284. 

Choephori, The, 155. 

Clod, The, 219. 

Colombe's Birthday, Act rv, Sc. 1, 
806. 

Come Here, George Riddle's Read- 
ings, 368. 

Concerning Humour in Comedy, 
Congreve, 396. 

Coniston, Scenario, 448. 

Conquest of Granada, The, 336. 

Conscious Lovers, The, 134. 

Consultation, The, Scenario, 466. 

Coventry Plays, Ludus Coventrise, 
327. 



Cradle, The, Act i, Sc. 9, 301. 
Crucifixion, The, York Plays, 327. 
Cymbeline, Act I, Sc. 1, 23. 

Debutante, The, Scenario, 216. 
De la Poesie Dramatique, 72, 74. 
Development of the Drama, The, 

19. 
Devonshire Hamlets, The, 241, 318, 

344, 358, 398. 
Doll's House, A, 348, 349. 
Duchess of Malfi, The, 267, 303, 

384. 

Early Plays, 16, 373. 

Edward II, Introduction, Marlowe, 
128. 

Electra, Euripides, Act I, 282. 

Electra, Hofmannsthal, 380. 

Encore, An, Scenario, 457. 

Epicoene, 289. 

Essay on Comedy, Meredith, 117, 
513. 

Eternal Triangle, The, Scenario, 425. 

Etudes Critiques, Brunetiere, 44. 

European Dramatists, 462. 

Everyman, 373. 

Every Man in His Humour, Induc- 
tion, 235. 

Eyes of the Blind, The, Scenario, 428. 

Faustus, Act v, 35. 

Fishing of Suzanne, The, Scenario, 

455. 
Fortune by Land and Sea, 345. 
Foundations of a National Drama, 

395. 
Frau im Fenster, Die, 377. 
Fritzschen, 226. 

Gabriel Schilling's Flight, Introduc- 
tion, 193. 



526 



INDEX OF QUOTATIONS 



Galloper, The, 164. 

George Riddle's Readings, Come 

Here, 368. 
Good Hope, The, 218. 
Good Natured Man, The, Act 1, 323. 
Great Divide, The, Act 1, 379. 
Great Galeoto, The, 385. 

Hamburg Dramaturgy, 9, 68, 114, 

121, 212, 247, 255, 291. 
Hazlitt's Dramatic Essays, 243. 
Hegge Plays (Ludus Coventrise), 

327. 
Henry V, Act 11, 139. 
Henry VI, Part 1, 97. 
Herod, Act 11, 222. 
Hindle Wakes, Act 1, Sc. 1, 324. 
Home, 29. 
House of Usna, The (Foreword), 65. 

Ibsen's Workshop, 51, 179, 233, 348, 
470. 

Importance of Being Earnest, The, 
403, 410. 

Induction, Every Man in His Hu- 
mour, 235. 

Influence of Local Theatrical Con- 
ditions upon the Drama of the 
Greeks, 125, 141. 

Introduction to Browning, Corson, 
390. 

Iris, 291, 378. 

Jim, The Penman, 374. 

Journey of Papa Perrichon, The, 

Act 1, 173. 
Julius Caesar, Act m, Sc. 3, 332. 
Justice, Act in, 375. 

King Argimenes, 49. 
King John, 268. 
Kismet, Scenario, 474. 

L'Annee Psychologique. 

F. de Curel, 76, 78, 339. 

Dumas fils, 49. 

Pailleron, 47. 
Lady of Andros, The, Act 1, 170. 

Act in, 171. 



Lady Windermere's Fan, 187, 230, 

231, 388, 389, 402, 404. 
La Princesse Georges, 34. 
La Princesse Georges, Au Public, 74, 

94, 259. 
Legacy, The, Scenario, 464. 
Le Supplice d'une Femme, Preface, 

100. 
Les 36 Situations Dramatiques, 63. 
Les Oberle, 83. 
Les Petits Oiseaux, 131. 
Letters of Bulwer-Lytton to Mac- 
ready, 77, 90, 125, 136, 211, 227, 

339, 344. 
Letters of Henrik Ibsen, 151, 183, 

259, 419, 421. 
Lettres sur les Anglais, Voltaire, 113. 
Life of Man, 328. 
Little Stories of New Plays, 422. 
London Merchant, The, or The 

History of George Barnwell, Act 

iv, 131. 

Act 1, Sc. 1, 335. 

Act in, Sc. 7, 337. 

Lonely Lives, Act iv, 164. 

Macaire, Act 1, Sc. 1, 27. 
Macbeth, Act 1, Sc. 5, 166. 

Introduction, 127. 
Mme. Sans-G6ne, 163. 
Madras House, The, 278. 
Magda (Heimat), Act iv, 229. 
Magistrate, The, 106, 107. 
Maid's Tragedy, The, Act in, Sc. 2, 

281. 
Masqueraders, The, 265. 
Measure for Measure, 406. 
Miss Julia, Introduction, 118. 
Mistress Beatrice Cope, 352. 

Scenario, 453. 
Money Spinner, The, 383. 
Monsieur Poirier's Son-in-Law, Act 

1, 221. 
Mrs. Dane's Defence, Act in, 279. 
My Best Play, Edgar Selwyn, 81. 

Nathan Hale, Act iv, Sc. 2, 198. 
New Rehearsal, A, or Bays the 
Younger, 249. 



INDEX OF QUOTATIONS 



527 



[er, The, Act I, 341. 

■ on Act Division as practiced 
in the Eurly Elizabethan Drama, 
151. 

Orchi.Is. 156. 

Othello, Act hi, Sc. 3, 185. 

Act in, Sc. 3, 369. 

Act 11, Sc. 1, 385. 

Act in, Sc. 3, 885. 

Phaedra, Act 1, 169. 
Pierre Patelin, 406. 
Plavboy of the Western World, The, 

417. 
Play-Making, 45, 50, 55, 61, 78, 151, 

214, 237, 510. 
Princess and the Butterfly, The, Act 

11, 292. 
Profligate, The, 255. 
Provoked Wife, The, Act iv, 297. 
Act ni, 395. 

Quem Quaeritis, trope, 16. 

Rehearsal, The, 170, 408. 

Revesby Sword Play, 372. 

Richard II, 101, 409. 

Richard III, Act 1, Sc. 1, 143. 

Riddle's (George) Readings, 368. 

Ring and the Book, The, 391. 

Rising of the Moon, The, 162. 

Robert Louis Stevenson: The Dra- 
matist, 6, 15, 382. 

Romancers, The, Act 1, Sc. 1, 36, 
225. 

Romeo and Juliet, Act 1, Sc. 1, 31. 

Rosmersholm, Ibsen's Prose Dra- 
mas, 181. 

Rosmersholm, Ibsen's Workshop, 
179. 

Sardou and the Sardou Plays, 48, 
71. 



Selected Dramas of John Dryden, 

261. 
Servant in the House, The, 122. 
Sire de Maletroit's Door, The, 

Scenario, 450, 451, 452. 
Some Platitudes Concerning Drama, 

66, 183, 2 11. 
Soul's Tragedy, A, 399. 
Spanish Friar, The, Act in, Sc. 1 , 

123. 
Spanish Tragedy, The, 370. 
Squire of Alsatia, The, 276. 
Stage in America, The, 58, 243. 
Still Waters Run Deep, 220. 
Storm, The, 86. 
Strife, 191. 

Tartuffe, Act 1, 280. 

Theatrical World for 1893, The, 

260. 
Trail of the Torch, The, 192. 
Treasure, The, 330. 
Troilus and Cressida, 142. 
Trope, Quem Quaeritis, 16. 
Troublesome Raigne of King Iohn, 

The, Part 1, 215. 
Truth, The, 283. 
Twelfth Night, Act 1, Sc. 5, 409. 
Two Gentlemen of Verona, The, 253. 
Two Hearts, 316. 
Two Loves and a Life, Act n, Sc. 2, 

393. 

United States of Playwrights, The, 
iii, 69. 

Vittoria Corombona, Act m, Sc. 2, 
285. 

Way of the World, The, 413. 
Winning of General Jane, The, 
Scenario, 468. 

You Never Can Tell, Act iv, 299. 



INDEX OF SUBJECTS 



Act, length of each, 148-153. 
Acts, number and length, 117-120. 
Action, 16-16. 

de6ned, 27-42. 

by physical action, 27-33. 

by revealing mental states, 36-41. 
Alternative endings, 255-259. 
Artistic unity, 111-112. 
Aside, in dialogue, 393-396. 

Barbara Frietchie — 

story of, 57-58. 

plot of, 59-61. 
Business, stage, definition of, 372- 
373. 

Central idea — 

importance in play, 73-77. 

shifting it, 77. 
Central purpose, value of in selecting 

material, 87-89. 
Changing tastes in public, 513. 
Character drawing and psychology 

distinguished, 237. 
Characters — 

prompt identification of, 154-161. 

devices for showing relations 
among, 166-183. 

unnecessary, 294-296. 

test for number of, 296. 
Characterization — 

by type, 234-237. 

by intimate knowledge of charac- 
ters, 239-247. 

in historical plays, 246. 

good but not needed, 247. 

by motivation, 248-276. 

bad methods, 276-278. 

in programs, 276-277. 

in stage directions, 277. 

by soliloquy, 279-280. 

by description, 280-283. 



by illustrative action, 283-286. 

good methods, 286-287. 

by exits and entrances, 287-294. 

three illustrations of good, 297- 
308. 
Climax — 

definition of, 215. 

anticlimax, illustrated, 215-233. 

and movement, 215-233. 

and surprise, 219-220. 

by quiet endings, 221-222, 224- 
225. 

by irony, 222-225. 

anticipating, 227. 

selection for, 228. 

postponing, for, 229. 

essentials of, 229. 
Contrast, for emphasis, 201-204. 
Critical and creative faculties, rela- 
tion of, 519. 

Delaved exposition and movement, 

211. 
Detail, contrasted in novel and play, 

352—357. 
Dialect, use of, 339-343. 
Dialogue — 
essentials of clearness, 309. 
selection in, 309-315. 
clearness without characteriza- 
tion not sufficient, 314-322. 
in character, 316-328, 334-336. 
emotion in, 322-328. 
well characterized, 324-327. 
secret of good, (Emerson), 328. 
unassigned and assigned, 328- 

334. 
author speaking through persons, 

334. 
style, 336-351, 409-419. 
style and emotion, 339, 344-350. 
sympathetic, 344-350. 






53° 



INDEX OF SUBJECTS 



fitted for stage, 350. 

actors aided by voice, gesture in, 

etc., 351-357, 367-372. 
unnecessary detail, 357-367. 
facial expression and gesture, 367- 

372. 
dialogue and "stage business," 

372-382. 
pantomime, 373-382. 
soliloquy, 382-390. 
aside, 393-396. 
incomplete, 397-398. 
block dialogue, 398-405. 
difficult to speak, 405-407. 
essentials of, 407-408. 
Differences, fundamental between 

novel and play, 4-14. 
Disregarding public, danger of, 517. 
Dramatic — 

definition of, 43—45. 
distinguished from theatric, 45. 
Dramatic technique, usual growth 

of, 518. 
Dramatist — 

writing to himself, 511. 
and motivation, 512. 
correct attitude toward public, 513. 
Dramatization of a novel, suggestions 
for, Edward Knobloch, 13-14. 

Emotion — 

essential in drama, 42-46. 

emotion and style, 339, 344-350. 
Emphasis — 

in plot, 183-207. 

defined, 183-194. 

lack of, 184-186. 

good, 185-193. 

importance of in beginnings and 
endings, 194-201. 

by contrast, 201-204. 

to determine dramatic form, 204- 
206. 

on what, 206-207. 
Epilogue, 145-148. 
Essentials — 

chief, in drama, 16-27. 

of motivation, 267. 

in good scenario, 426-462. 



Exits and entrances, for character- 
ization, 287-294. 
Exposition — 

preliminary, 141-148, 166-183. 

devices in, 167-173. 

distinction between preliminary 

and later, 176-182. 
emphasis in, 183. 

Facial expression, importance of, 

367-372. 
Fact vs. fiction in drama, 67-68. 
Falsification of life by drama, 14-15. 

Gesture, importance of, 367-372. 

Holding a situation, 93-110. 

Identifying promptly persons of 

play, 154-161. 
Illustrative action, 82-88, 109. 
relation of, to dramatic selection, 

86-87. 
Importance of facial expression, 

gesture and voice, 367-372. 
Inaction, utter, possibly dramatic, 

41. 

Knowledge of theatre necessary, 
68-70. 

Melodrama and tragedy, 268-276. 
Monologue, 391-393. 
Motivation, 248-276. 

and literary convention, 261-262. 

and public taste, 262-264. 

essentials of, 267. 

obtrusive, 267. 
Movement — 

and suspense, 207-212. 

in plot, 207-233. 

qualities of, 207. 

where needed, 207. 

in interwoven plots, 210. 

and transitional scenes, 210-211. 

and delayed exposition, 211. 

and explanatory last act, 211. 

and climax, 215-233. 



INDEX OF SUBJECTS 



53' 



Novelist, technique of vs. dramatic 
technique, 5-14. 

Novelty of subject, 62-67. 

Number of characters, test for, 296. 

Number of possible dramatic sub- 
jects, 63-67. 

Obtrusive motivation, 267. 
Older and suspense, 208-210. 

Pantomime, 373-382, 388-390. 
Physical action, 27-33. 
Place, unity of, 120-130. 
Plausibility, 264-267. 
Plot contrasted with story, 57-61. 
Program characterization, 276-277. 
Prologue, use of, 142-148. 
Psychology and character drawing 

distinguished, 237. 
Public, changing tastes in, 513. 

Scene, definition of, 130-132. 
Scenario — 

importance of, 79-80. 

value of, 420-421. 

summary vs. scenario, 421-426. 

real character of, 426-473. 

essentials of good, 426-462. 

dramatis personam in, 427-431. 

settings in, 432-445. 

preliminary exposition in, 446- 
447. 

talky, 448-449. 

entrances and exits in, 449-450. 

cardinal principle of, 449. 

emphasis in, 455-461. 

flexibility in, 461-463. 

proper length, 461. 

no one form, 463-464. 

using dialogue in, 464-470. 
Settings, 122-130. 

value of in placing a play, 161- 
166. 

in scenario, 432^45. 
Situation, holding a, 93-110. 
Soliloquy, 382-390. 



Stage direction — 

bad, 276-278. 

good, 279. 
Stage waits, 208-209. 
Starting a play, 47-54. 
Story — 

as starting point, 52-54. 

essential in play, 55-57. 

misuse of word, 56-57. 

contrasted with plot, 57-61. 

unity of action in, 111. 

amount required, 112-116. 
Style, in dialogue, 409-419. 
Summary vs. scenario, 421-426. 
Surprise, 212-214. 

and suspense, distinction, 214. 
Suspense — 

and order, 208-210. 

vs. surprise, 212. 

and surprise, distinction, 214. 

and sympathy, 214-215. 

in climax, 215-232. 

Technique in Drama — 

definition of, 1. 

three kinds of, 2-4. 
Technique of novelist and dramatis!: 

compared, 5-14. 
Theatric, distinguished from dra- 
matic, 45. 
Time — 

unity of, 120-130. 

treatment of on stage, 130-137. 

off stage, 137. 

antecedent to play, 141-148. 

by chorus, 142. 

by soliloquy, 143. 

by prologue, 144-148. 
Transitional Scenes, 109-110. 
Truckling to an audience, definition, 
509. 

Unassigned speeches, S28-3S2. 
Unity of action, 110-111. 
Unity, artistic, 111-112. 
Unnecessary characters, 294-296. 



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